SENATOR McCAIN EXPRESSES CONERCENS ABOUT CONTRACTING IN IRAQ AFTER MILITARY WITHDRAWAL SENATOR MCCAIN concerned about the potential for waste, fraud and abuse in contracting support as the mission in Iraq transitions from military to civilian with U.S. troops withdrawing by year end.
PoliticalNews.me - Nov 04,2011 - SENATOR McCAIN EXPRESSES CONERCENS ABOUT CONTRACTING IN IRAQ AFTER MILITARY WITHDRAWAL
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) sent the following letter to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta expressing concerns about the potential for waste, fraud and abuse in contracting support as the mission in Iraq transitions from military to civilian with U.S. troops withdrawing by the end of the year.
Full letter is below and attached:
November 3, 2011
The Honorable Leon Panetta
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon, Room 3E880
Arlington, VA 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Panetta:
As you know, I am profoundly concerned about the President’s decision to end negotiations with the government of Iraq regarding a new security agreement to maintain a presence of U.S. troops in Iraq beyond this year. The full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq puts at risk the significant gains that we and our Iraqi partners have fought and sacrificed so much for over the past years. It also exposes to risk the civilian-led mission transitioning into Iraq by exacerbating the challenges this mission will now face due to the now imminent withdrawal of U.S. troops.
I know you would agree that the State Department is full of talented, hard-working Americans, but I am confident that you would also agree that the State Department by itself simply does not have the capability to plan, acquire, administer and oversee contracts for services of the magnitude and scope needed to support the huge diplomatic mission currently contemplated for Iraq. The State Department has never faced a challenge anywhere close to this magnitude, and I am concerned that the current plan could therefore expose billions of taxpayers’ dollars supporting diplomatic and development goals in Iraq to the risk of being lost, wasted or stolen.
While the State Department will continue to rely initially on the Defense Department for some basic capabilities, it will ultimately turn to an army of contractor personnel to provide services ranging from essential physical security to fact-of-life support, such as food and laundry. Indeed, of the 16,000 U.S. personnel that will comprise the U.S. civilian presence in Iraq after this year, it is estimated that nearly 14,000 of them will be contractors. Planning, awarding, administering and overseeing a contractor force of this size will likely exceed the State Department’s acquisition capabilities, especially given its limited experience managing a contracting task of this magnitude in a conflict environment.
Over the past year, the Department of Defense has been working with the Department of State on planning activities regarding contract management and oversight in Iraq. While this planning may facilitate the initial military-to-civilian transition, I question whether it is sustainable beyond that. I therefore request that you provide the following information.
First, exactly how has the Department of Defense improved its interagency planning, coordination, management and oversight of contingency contracts with the Department of State? As part of this explanation, please explain how the Department of Defense plans to sustain such support, particularly as the number of Defense personnel remaining in Iraq will