A report issued earlier this year by the independent bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) has broad implications both inside and outside America’s borders regarding waste and fraud in the government contract award process.
The Commission’s final report to Congress highlights a litany of problems with the contract award process in Iraq and Afghanistan that has resulted in waste totaling between $31 billion and $60 billion. These problems include:
• Accountability is too often absent, diluted, delayed or avoided
• Ill conceived projects
• Poor planning and oversight by the U.S. government
• Criminal behavior and blatant corruption by both government and contractor employees
The report further states that blatant corruption contributes to a climate where large amounts of waste are accepted as the norm. Unfortunately, this mentality is entrenched within the government sector and is a major contributor to our huge and escalating debt levels caused by bloated government and overlapping wasteful programs, but voters are taking note and applying pressure for change. This is best illustrated by the numerous “watchdog groups” that are springing up to help ensure transparency and accountability of government operations.
Although the U.S. military is withdrawing from Iraq, contractors will still be operating in the region. Adequate oversight of taxpayer money should be a top priority, second only to the safety of any remaining troops and the civilian population.
The Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) Strategic Plan 2011- 2015 outlines initiatives to improve operations in the contract award process, including procurement and contract administration. But the DCAA is a “distinct agency within the Department of Defense” which raises questions on the effectiveness of self-policing.
Lessons learned from the Commission on Wartime Contracting report, which was three years in the making, create a strong foundation for solving the problems in the contract award process. Stringent oversight and harsh penalties for corrupt people and companies must be a major part of the equation. Remedies of this type should apply to contract awards on the city, state and federal levels of government.
Eradicating the culture of waste and corruption in government is essential to America’s survival. This great nation has too much at stake and we owe it to future generations to bring integrity and ethics back into the fold.