Washington: A bipartisan commission on wartime contracting warned Wednesday that the sheer scale of US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan “create plentiful opportunities for waste, fraud and abuse.”
In an interim report titled “At What Cost?”, the commission said more than 240,000 contract employees — about 80 percent of them foreign nationals — now work in support of the US Defense Department in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They manage dining facilities, wash uniforms, guard bases, protect diplomats, transport supplies and build projects that range from water treatment plants to hospitals, the report said.
“Contractors are doing vital work, generally to good effect, but the sheer scale of their operations and weaknesses in the federal contract-management and oversight systems create plentiful opportunities for waste, fraud, and abuse,” it said.
Among the waste highlighted by the commission was the construction of a 30-million-dollar dining hall at Camp Delta, a US military base southeast of Baghdad.
The base already has a dining hall and the new one will not be completed before December 2009, at a time when US forces are being withdrawn from the country.
The report also underscored the less well known human cost: 1,360 employees of subcontractors have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the start of the US interventions in the region, compared to nearly 5,000 US troops.