Pentagon criticized for lax contractor oversight

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.

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