DOD Makes Strides in Wartime Contracting, Officials Say
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2011 The Defense Department has made tremendous strides in executing and managing contracts in war zones and will continue to build on the work of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Afghanistan and Iraq, the acting undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics said here yesterday.
Frank Kendall and Air Force Lt. Gen. Brooks L. Bash, the Joint Staff’s director of logistics, testified before a subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Both officials told the subcommittee that contractors have become an integral part of operations in wartime, and discussed the commission’s final report.
“The department has been working closely with the commission since its inception in 2008, and we appreciate and welcome its efforts to assist the department in eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in wartime contracting,” Kendall said.
The department has worked closely with the commission, which made 82 recommendations for streamlining contracting and putting controls in place, Kendall said. DOD is implementing most of the commission’s recommendations and is studying the final 15 recommendations included in the final report, he added.
“For the new strategic recommendations, the department is currently completing its analysis,” he said. “In broad terms, however, we agree in principle with the overarching precepts driving the commission’s final report recommendations.”
An example is the commission’s recommendation for the department to use risk factors in deciding whether to contract out certain services during contingency operations.
“We agree on the importance of risk-based assessments, and the department has already taken some steps in this direction,” Kendall said. In Afghanistan, the commander already is on board and includes risk as part of the decision process for undertaking projects, he told the panel.
Another recommendation calls for DOD to develop deployable cadres for acquisition management and contractor oversight. The Army has already begun this with the Expeditionary Contracting Command, Kendall said.
The commission also calls for reducing the use of private security contractors in Afghanistan.
“In Afghanistan, … we are implementing the recommendation,” Kendall said. “A plan is in development to transition selected private security contractor contracts to an Afghan public protection force. As the capability and size of this force mature, certain security functions will transition.”
Other recommendations call for strengthening oversight rules to ensure U.S. money doesn’t go to firms that trade with the enemy. Another recommendation calls for adequate staffing and resources in establishing procedures to protect the government’s interest.
“We have already implemented several improvements in this area,” Kendall said. “We have strengthened our ability to withhold payments to contractors with inadequate business systems as a means to protect U.S. government interests.”
DOD uses contract support to operations to provide a number of important capabilities, from fuel delivery to food service, Bash said in his testimony.
“We have come to leverage contracting as an important force multiplier to overcome fiscal, political and cultural realities,” he said, noting that contracting “is an important and necessary capability for our forces.”
The Joint Staff, Bash said, has led a variety of efforts to “institutionalize this critical capability to ensure that when we go to war in the future we are better prepared to execute effectively and efficiently, and, most importantly, to provide the best possible support to the warfighter at a reasonable cost.”