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Sié Chéou-Kang CenterPrivate Security Monitor

Press Briefing by the Commission on Wartime Contracting

U.S. Government Research & Oversight

Commission on Wartime Contracting

Congress created the independent, bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan (CWC) in 2008 to assess contingency contracting for reconstruction, logistics, and security functions; examine the extent of waste, fraud, and abuse; and provide recommendations to Congress to improve the structures, policies, and resources for managing the contracting process and contractors. The Commission held a number of hearings and filed interim reports to Congress in June 2009 and February 2011, and a final report in August 2011. It also issued five special reports.

The mandate of the CWC expired on September 30, 2011. The CWC website now serves as an archive of the Commission's work and is no longer updated.

Reports

CWC Reports

Special Report 1: Defense Agencies Must Improve Their Oversight of Contractor Business Systems to Reduce Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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At a hearing on August 2009, the Commission learned that unreliable data from internal contractor business systems produced billions of dollars in contingency-contract costs. Further, the two primary government agencies involved, the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) and the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), were not working together effectively to protect government interests. Based on that information and in this report, the Commission issued a number of recommendations to improve contingency-contractor oversight. 

At What Risk? Correcting Over-Reliance on Contractors in Contingency Operations

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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In this report, the Commission makes recommendations that it believes address the underlying causes of poor outcomes in contracting, and that have the potential of institutionalizing changes for lasting effect. The recommendations include growing agencies’ organic capacity; developing a deployable contingency-acquisition cadre; restricting reliance on contractors for security; and establishing a contingency-contracting directorate in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as Offices of Contingency Contracting at Defense, State, and USAID.

Special Report 5: Sustainability: Hidden Costs Risk New Waste

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This report finds that billions of U.S. taxpayers’ dollars will be wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan if the host nation governments cannot take over the operation, maintenance, and security of efforts undertaken to reconstruct, stabilize, and develop those countries. Officials at the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the USAID must therefore examine both completed and current projects for risk of sustainment failure and pursue all reasonable strategies to mitigate risks.

Transforming Wartime Contracting: Controlling Costs, Reducing Risks

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This voluminous final report to Congress summarizes the Commission’s work since 2008 and offers 15 findings and correlating strategic recommendations that it believes warrant prompt action. Among the 15 are (1) agencies over-rely on contractors for contingency operations; (2) inattention to contracting leads to waste, fraud, and abuse; (3) agency structures prevent effective inter-agency coordination on contracting; (4) contract competition, management, and enforcement are ineffective; and (5) major reforms in government contracting are needed. 

Special Report 2: Lowest-Priced Security not Good Enough for War-Zone Embassies

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This report urges Congress to change a statutory restriction on the State Department’s ability to choose security contractors for its overseas Foreign Service buildings based on any considerations other than lowest price and technical acceptability (LPTA). The Commission believes that the unintended consequences of the mandate were poor contract performance and widely publicized misconduct by guards for the embassy in Kabul. The report urges allowing the “best-value” standard for evaluating contractors’ offers. (Note: Congress responded by enacting a temporary lifting of the LPTA mandate in Iraq and Afghanistan.)

Special Report 4: Iraq — A Forgotten Mission? The United States Needs to Sustain a Diplomatic Presence to Preserve Gains and Avoid Waste as the U.S. Military Leaves Iraq

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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State’s Iraq mission after 2011 will require using thousands more contractors. Yet State is short of needed funding and program-management staff. Inadequate support risks waste of funds and failure for U.S. policy objectives in Iraq and the region. In this report, the Commission recommends that Congress ensure adequate funding to sustain State’s operations in critical areas of Iraq, including the Department’s greatly increased needs for operational contract support. 

At What Cost? Contingency Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This report describes the Commission’s operations during its first year, identifies areas for research, and flags eight issues of immediate concern for lawmakers to consider. The eight issues include the risk of potential waste to be incurred by the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq; the critical shortage of qualified contract-management personnel in theater; the need for greater accountability in the use of subcontractors; the failure to apply lessons learned in Iraq to Afghanistan; and the need to ensure that contractors providing security for operating bases are well trained and equipped.

Hearings

2011 Hearings

Ensuring Contractor Accountability: Past Performance and Suspensions and Debarments

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing examined how the past performance information system and the suspension & debarment process can be used to achieve better contractor performance and accountability in contingencies. Two panels of witnesses were probed by the commissioners regarding the effectiveness of government’s tools to hold contractors accountable for their work. The witnesses discussed methods to strengthen contractor performance standards and accountability, including the use of federal systems to capture and use data on contractors’ performance, and on use of procedures to suspend or debar contractors from receiving new government contracts.

USAID Plans for Improved Contracting Performance

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing was held to evaluate the progress of the USAID reforms to its contracting policy, including reforms to USAID procurement practices, and its potential to cut waste and identify effective and sustainable projects in the non-military aspect of its contingency operations. USAID administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah was the sole witness. At the hearing, Dr. Shah outlined his reform agenda and fielded questions from the Commissioners concerning the implementation and impact of the reforms in the two wartime theaters. The major themes addressed, included the effectiveness and promotion of contractor competition and accountability. 

Recurring Problems in Afghan Construction

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing examined recurring problems in Afghan construction projects. This hearing was the result of a study conducted by the Commission on major construction projects in Afghanistan funded by the U.S. Government. The hearing was organized into three panels including: The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment (AFCEE), and the U.S. Department of State. The third panel included representatives from CH2MHill, AMEC Earth and Environmental, Black & Veatch Special Projects Corporation, The Louis Berger Group, and the United Nations Office for Project Services.

Implementing Improvements to Defense Wartime Contracting

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing examined the efforts and difficulties in identifying and preventing waste, fraud and abuse, and in overcoming obstacles and barriers to reform. Testifying at the hearing were: Hon. Jacques Gansler, Ph.D., formerly Under Secretary of Defense, Professor at the Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise, University of Maryland; Mr. Paul Francis, Managing Director for Acquisition and Sourcing Management, Government Accountability Office; Hon. Stuart Bowen, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction; Mr. Daniel Blair, Department of Defense Deputy Inspector General for Auditing; Hon. Herbert Richardson, Acting Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

State Department Contracting, Response to Commission Recommendations, and Transition Effort in Iraq and Afghanistan

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This is a link to a video, not a transcript of the hearing. On June 6, 2011, Ambassador Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary of State for Management, testified about the Department of State’s response to the Commission’s second interim report to Congress; the treatment of contingency contracting in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review; and State’s progress in expanding its presence and responsibilities in Iraq for the Defense-to-State transition. At the hearing, the Commissioners also explored with Ambassador Kennedy transition-related challenges and concerns, including the question of whether State hired contractors were at risk of performing inherently governmental functions.

Recurring Problems in Afghan Construction, continued

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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On February 14, 2011, the CWC held the second part of its hearing to examine the recurring problems in Afghan construction. At its previous session on January 24, the Commission heard from witnesses representing federal departments that use construction contracts. At this hearing, the witnesses were senior executives from construction contractors in Afghanistan. Among other issues witnesses discussed private security usage for construction projects in Afghanistan.

Non-governmental Organizations’ Lessons for Contingencies

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing examined the mission and role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the development of nations in a wartime environment. Testifying at the hearing were: Matthew McGarry, Country Manager, Catholic Relief Services; Anne Richard, Vice President, International Rescue Committee; Michael Bowers, Regional Program Director for South Asia, Mercy Corps; Michael Klosson, Vice President, Save the Children; Beth Cole, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Institute of Peace.

Better Buying Power in Defense Spending

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing examined the Department of Defense’s progress in its efficiency initiative to save money on contracting. Under Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter was the sole witness. The Commissioners examined Dr. Carter's "Better Buying Power" initiative, which aims to improve contracting cost and process efficiencies, increase competition and incentives, and enhance acquisition tradecraft. 

2010 Hearings

The Contingency Acquisition Workforce: What Is Needed and How Do We Get There?

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing examined whether the U.S. Department of Defense has made adequate plans and concrete progress to improve the federal acquisition workforce—the people who establish requirements, award contracts, manage the execution of contracts, oversee performance, provide technical expertise, audit accounts, and close out completed contracts. The Commission probed two panels of government and academic witnesses on DOD's strategy to increase acquisition management, and its capacity to manage and oversee the acquisition process in contingency operations. An adequate acquisition workforce helps to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse by defining contract requirements, managing contracts, and providing oversight and accountability.

Total Force Policy, the Quadrennial Defense Review, and other Defense and Operational Planning: Why Does Planning for Contractors Continue to Lag?

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing examined the Department of Defense's manpower planning, strategic planning, and operational planning for operational contract support in contingency operations. The Commission's major concern expressed during the hearing was the inadequate attention to contractor support found in the DOD's Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), Total Force Policy, and other planning documents. Commissioners questioned hearing witnesses on the treatment of contractor support in the QDR, and asked what might make contractor support a higher priority in DOD planning. 

Are Private Security Contractors Performing Inherently Governmental Functions?

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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On June 18, 2010 the CWC held the first part of a two-day hearing on the proper role and oversight of security contractors supporting U.S. operations in Southwest Asia. The underlying question posed was, are private security contractors performing inherently governmental functions? The six-witness panel - comprising of two think-tank officials, two academics, an industry-association official, and a consultant specializing in government acquisition issues - examined the current system which governs PMSCs and debated the appropriate line when a task must be solely performed by U.S. military or civilian employees. The CWC also examined PSC oversight, accountability and management, and pressed the witnesses to identify improvements to the current system.

Oversight of Service Contracts

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing focused on improving the federal government’s planning and oversight of billions of dollars in services contracts for Southwest Asia operations. Contracts for logistical support, translation, maintenance, security and other services are estimated to account for nearly two-thirds of contracts in Southwest Asia, and are mostly managed by the U.S. Army. At the hearing, the Commission voiced concern that the Army still lacks adequate resources for planning, managing, and overseeing services contracts that are critical to the success of military operations. The hearing also probed the issue of contractors becoming involved in “inherently governmental” functions while using force or making decisions involving other contractors.

Subcontracting: Who’s Minding the Store?

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing addressed subcontracting in war zones. With three panels of witnesses representing government agencies, prime contractors, and subcontractors, the Commission examined the transparency and accountability challenges associated with subcontracting. The underlying theme of the hearing was whether the government needs additional controls over subcontractor performance and costs to ensure that prime contractors are meeting their legal obligation to adequately manage their subcontractors.

An Urgent Need: Coordinating Reconstruction and Stabilization in Contingency Operations, continued

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This second in a two-part hearing (transcript of the first hearing) heard from witnesses A. Bever, Director, Task Force for Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. Agency for International Development; Ambassador John E. Herbst, Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization, Department of State; and Dr. James Schear, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Partnership Strategy and Stability Operations, Department of Defense. Witnesses spoke of problems in planning and coordinating the myriad of projects, from digging wells and building roads, to training police and promoting small businesses, which aim to stabilize and develop Iraq and Afghanistan. These projects rely heavily on contracts.

How Good is Our System for Curbing Contract Waste, Fraud, and Abuse?

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing included two panels. The first reviewed the challenges and issues that confront law-enforcement officials as they attempt to discover and successfully prosecute fraud in a contingency environment. Key themes included coordination among criminal investigative organizations and Department of Justice prosecutors; challenges in preparing successful criminal prosecutions in a war zone; and policy actions that need to be taken to prevent, detect, investigate, and prosecute fraud in contingency environments. The second panel updated the Commission on the work of the Inspectors General for USAID, State, and Defense since they appeared at a February 2009 CWC hearing.

Rightsizing and Managing Contractors During the Iraq Drawdown

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing focused on planning for the drawdown of nearly 100,000 contractor employees in Iraq as the United States draws down its military forces there. The drawdown will also entail reductions in the contractor workforce that provides base security, operates dining halls, does laundry, transports supplies, and performs many other services for U.S. troops. At the hearing, the Commission explored the issue whether the federal government has adequate plans and mechanisms in place to ensure that contractors are reducing their workforce numbers appropriately as the U.S. military presence in Iraq shrinks. The hearing also examined the transition from sole- to multiple-vendor format for the multi-billion-dollar LOGCAP contract that provides logistical support in Iraq.

Private Security Contractors in Iraq: Where Are We Going?

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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In this second part of the two-day hearing on the proper role and oversight of private security contractors supporting U.S. operations, two panels of witnesses testified about America’s use of private security contractors in Iraq. The first panel testified on roles, responsibilities, planning, and program management of PSCs, all in the context of the U.S. military drawdown in Iraq and the pending hand-off of security responsibilities there from the Department of Defense to the Department of State.  Second-panel witnesses were executives of private security firms who spoke on oversight, responsibility and management, determination of inherently governmental functions, performance of armed PSCs, and identification and implementation of lessons learned. 

An Urgent Need: Coordinating Reconstruction and Stabilization in Contingency Operations

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing examined reconstruction and stabilization roles and responsibilities; planning and cooperation across U.S. government agencies, coalition partners, non-governmental organizations, and host-nation communities; and consideration of sustainability by host governments when assessing potential projects. Stuart Bowen, the government’s Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction; Maj. Gen. Arnold Fields, USMC (retired), Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction; Robert Perito, Senior Program Officer, Centers of Innovation and Center for Post-Conflict Peace and Stability Operations, U.S. Institute of Peace; Mark Schneider, Senior Vice President, International Crisis Group (ICG); and Seth Jones, political scientist, RAND Corporation, all testified.

2009 Hearings

Contractor Training of Afghan National Security Forces

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing reviewed the adequacy and oversight of contract training for Afghanistan’s national army, national police, and border police—organizations critical for stability as the United States moves toward its newly stated goal of beginning withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country in July 2011. Additional U.S. military units are being deployed to assist training in Afghanistan, but contract personnel are also heavily engaged in training both army and police units there. The hearing took testimony from and posed questions to federal officials and representatives of key training contractors DynCorp, MPRI, and Xe.

LOGCAP: Support-Contracting Challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing was held to consider contracting and property-management challenges relating to the draw-down of forces in Iraq, the transition from the LOGCAP III contract to the more competitive LOGCAP IV, contractor performance and the adequacy of contract oversight, as well as the structure and administration of LOGCAP. Officials of the Army Contracting Command, the Defense Contract Management Agency, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, and the Army’s Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) Office testified. 

Lessons from the Inspectors General: Improving Wartime Contracting

Author: U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting
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This hearing was titled “Lessons from the Inspectors General: Improving Wartime Contracting.” The hearing highlight was the public release of the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction’s (SIGIR) “Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience” report on five years of investigating waste, fraud, and abuse in the reconstruction effort in Iraq. After a discussion of this new report, the Commissioners heard three witnesses representing the Inspector-General functions of the Departments of Defense and State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.