Sunday, 16 June 2024

Defense bill increases accountability of contractors in Iraq, Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, DC – On Thursday, a key provision to reduce waste and abuse of reconstruction funding for Iraq and Afghanistan was included in the 2008 Defense Authorization bill and passed through the House by a vote of 329 to 27.

The provision was based on a bill introduced by Congressman Mike Thompson in the last three Congresses called the War Funding Accountability Act.

"Accountability is no longer optional for the federal government," Thompson said in a statement. "Americans deserve to know where their tax dollars are going, and Iraq and Afghanistan are no exception."

Specifically, the Defense Authorization bill requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report every six months on the handling of contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, Thompson's office reported. The GAO will report on the value of contracts, how the contracts were awarded and whether the contracts are achieving results.

The bill also expands the authority of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction to include all reconstruction funding regardless of source or fiscal year.

"We've found that contractors in Iraq charged $45 per case of soda and $100 per 15-pound bag of laundry," said Thompson. "Brand-new $85,000 trucks were abandoned if they had minor mechanical problems. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction found that $8.8 billion was handed over to Iraqi ministries with virtually no tracking of what it was spent on. Meanwhile, families and communities are raising money to send our service members armor and supplies."

Thompson said the Defense Authorization is meant to make sure tax dollars to to where they belong -- “protecting our troops, not lining the pockets of contractors.”

He added, “This bill will scrutinize every single contract and contractor to ensure it's in the American public's best interest."

The provision was strongly supported by the Blue Dog Coalition, of which Thompson is a member. This group's sole purpose is to promote fiscally responsible government spending.

This action comes on the heels of a damaging report issued by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction detailing continued and egregious abuses in the government's funding of the war in Iraq, Thompson's office reported.

Inadequate facilities and non-functioning equipment built by highly paid contractors, insufficient monitoring of government contracts and billions of dollars unaccounted for due to inefficiencies and bad management are just a few of the examples of waste, fraud and abuse detailed in the report.


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