September 28, 2007

CARDIN PRAISES SENATE PASSAGE OF BILL TO STOP FRAUD AND ABUSE IN WARTIME CONTRACTS

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, D-MD, today praised Senate passage of legislation that would create an independent process to study and investigate waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement in wartime contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  

 

An unprecedented level of privatization of U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has left billions of taxpayer dollars exposed to fraud, abuse, waste and mismanagement. Government auditors have found overwhelming evidence of fraud and abuse in contracts related to the conduct of the Iraq War. Auditors recently announced that $1 out of every $6 spent in Iraq reconstruction may be subject to fraud or abuse.  Last week it was revealed by the Department of Defense that contracts and programs valued at $88 billion are being audited for financial irregularities.

 

According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States has spent more than $437 billion on the Iraq War, with an additional $100 billion to be spent this year, which means that as much as $90 billion in taxpayer money may be wasted by the end of this year.

 

The mounting evidence of waste, fraud, and abuse of federal dollars awarded to private contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate that the current oversight mechanisms are inadequate.

 

"The American taxpayer is footing the bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and we have an obligation to ensure that their money is spent only for what is necessary to equip our troops or rebuild local infrastructure.   I am deeply concerned by reports of fraud, abuse and waste, and I want to establish a mechanism -- isolated from the political process - that will ensure U.S. dollars are spent as intended," said Senator Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

 

The Commission on Wartime Contracting Establishment Act , S. 1825, would create an independent expert commission to study and investigate wartime contracts since 9/11 and the contracting process in consultation with the Special Investigator General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) and the Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General (IG).

 

In January 2009, the Commission would issue an interim report, and a final report would be released not later than two years after creation of the Commission. The final report would include recommendations regarding improvements to the contracting process, specifically contract development, award, management, oversight, accountability, appropriateness of tasks, and structure of DOD.

 

The legislation extends the SIGIR's authority to conduct audits of agency wartime contracts for logistical and other support in Iraq and Afghanistan to identify potential waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.  Specifically, audits will examine development, award, terms and conditions, contractor cost controls, agency management, oversight, adequacy of contracting personnel, coordination with commanders, appropriateness of functions.  SIGIR will refer appropriate cases to the Attorney General for prosecution .