WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – Ineffective Pentagon oversight of private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan has wasted up to $60 billion over the past decade, a “troubling” failure that undermines U.S. security and cannot continue in an era of tight budgets, a special panel reported yesterday.
The congressionally mandated Commission on Wartime Contracting, releasing its final report, said U.S. security forces are overly dependent on private contractors, whose employees in theater totaled 260,000 in 2010 and have sometimes outnumbered U.S. military and civilian personnel.
Contractors have been tapped to do work meant to be handled exclusively by federal employees, the panel said. The Defense Department, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development are so reliant on contractors that they have even lost the ability to perform some core missions themselves.
Yet despite spending some $206 billion on grants and contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002, the Pentagon and other U.S. agencies have failed to field an oversight structure that can ensure the work is carried out properly, the panel said.