DOD Works to Improve War Zone Contracting

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31, 2011 — The Defense Depart­ment is work­ing to ensure con­tract­ing in war zones is done effec­tive­ly and the mon­ey goes to the right peo­ple, a Pen­ta­gon spokesman said�here today.

In its final report to Con­gress deliv­ered today, the non­par­ti­san Com­mis­sion on Wartime Con­tract­ing in Iraq and Afghanistan said at least $31 bil­lion, and pos­si­bly as much as $60 bil­lion, has been lost in con­tract waste and fraud in U.S. con­tin­gency oper­a­tions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said Defense Depart­ment offi­cials share the commission’s com­mit­ment to improv­ing wartime con­tract­ing.

In par­tic­u­lar, we com­mend the com­mis­sion for shin­ing a spot­light on the risks of over-reliance on con­trac­tors, on the need to strength­en the con­tract­ing func­tion at the agen­cies, on the val­ue of increas­ing com­pe­ti­tion in con­tract­ing and on the impor­tance of hold­ing con­trac­tors account­able for their per­for­mance,” he said.

The Defense Depart­ment already is work­ing on many of the lessons learned from expe­ri­ences in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lapan not­ed. “We have already imple­ment­ed a num­ber of steps to improve con­tin­gency con­tract­ing based on the department’s own analy­sis, as well as rec­om­men­da­tions from the inde­pen­dent reviews of the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­i­ty Office and the inspec­tor gen­er­al and the commission’s pre­vi­ous pub­li­ca­tions and inter­im reports,” he said.

DOD offi­cials are mon­i­tor­ing, assess­ing and tak­ing cor­rec­tive action as part of a con­tin­u­ous improve­ment process, Lapan added.

For exam­ple, he said, the depart­ment is inves­ti­gat­ing and pros­e­cut­ing those engaged in fraud. DOD has also increased the num­ber of fed­er­al employ­ees and mil­i­tary per­son­nel over­see­ing the con­tract­ing process, adding more mil­i­tary per­son­nel in the acqui­si­tion corps and increas­ing the num­ber of con­tract­ing offi­cer rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

The depart­ment also has invest­ed in bet­ter train­ing for deployed mil­i­tary per­son­nel super­vis­ing and inter­act­ing with con­trac­tors, Lapan said. In addi­tion, U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand now has a Joint The­ater Sup­port Con­tract­ing Com­mand, and Joint Staff and DOD offi­cials are estab­lish­ing pol­i­cy and plan­ning require­ments for oper­a­tional con­trac­tor sup­port in future con­tin­gen­cies.

DOD also is focus­ing on project sus­tain­abil­i­ty, Lapan said. The com­mis­sion was high­ly crit­i­cal of some projects that the Afghan gov­ern­ment couldn’t pos­si­bly sus­tain.

Com­pe­ti­tion is the key to good con­tract­ing, Lapan said, and the depart­ment is look­ing to increase com­pe­ti­tion in con­tin­gency con­tract­ing by com­pet­ing a new Logis­tics Civ­il Aug­men­ta­tion Pro­gram con­tract and qual­i­fy­ing more ven­dors to stim­u­late com­pe­ti­tion for task orders through­out the contract’s life.

The depart­ment has worked since 2009 to strength­en the over­all acqui­si­tion work­force, Lapan said, both in num­bers and edu­ca­tion. The Defense Depart­ment has cre­at­ed and filled 9,000 new acqui­si­tion work­force posi­tions, he added, strength­en­ing the con­tract­ing work­force and con­tribut­ing to rebuild­ing the Defense Con­tract Man­age­ment and Defense Con­tract Audit Agency.

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