GAO: DoD Excels at War, But Needs Better Contract Oversight
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 15, 2004 Inadequate oversight for U.S. forces logistics contracts in Kuwait and Iraq "is a serious problem," the chief of the U.S. General Accounting Office told House members here today.
"As has been the case for many decades," David M. Walker, comptroller general of the United States, observed, DoD earns an "'A-plus' (for) fighting and winning armed conflicts, but they're a 'D' on economy, efficiency, transparency and accountability" in managing contracts.
Walker and Neal P. Curtin, director of defense capabilities and management for the GAO, testified before the House Government Reform Committee about contract operations in Iraq.
Some government contractors have come under congressional scrutiny for alleged overcharging of services provided to service members deployed in the Middle East.
Walker acknowledged that most troops serving in Iraq and Kuwait are satisfied with contractor-provided services. "But, I do think cost is important," he added.
For example, Neal noted that when a troop food vendor in Kuwait was replaced with another, the government's bill dropped by more than 40 percent for the same service.
Walker noted he'd expect some contracting mistakes would be made during turbulent wartime situations. But, he added, he "also would expect that some of the checks and balances would hopefully correct" some potential contracting miscalculations.
"There has to be a balancing" between expediency and cost in military contracting operations, Walker said, "to make sure we can accomplish our mission."
Founded in 1921, the U.S. General Accounting Office is a legislative branch agency. The GAO seeks to improve the performance and assure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American taxpayer.