Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...


Friday, April 23, 2004  

More on Profiteering

Via Krugman, we are directed to PRI's Marketplace, where they're running a story called "The Spoils of War." The most surprising assertion? The Pentagon has outsourced its oversight function to save dough.

Critics say the Pentagon's contracting problems started when it tried to save money by slashing oversight staff. Over the past decade, the Pentagon pared its audit and oversight personnel by more than fifty percent. Today, the Inspector General of the Coalition Provisional Authority has a total staff of fifty-eight. And that includes administrative personnel. The Defense Department has about a two-dozen auditors. That's a total of about 80 permanent staff assigned to watch over the largest postwar reconstruction effort in history.

But twice that number is needed, according to the Association of Inspectors General, a non-partisan organization of financial fraud analysts.

Last month, the Pentagon rolled out a new strategy to bolster its drained staff: outsourcing. It awarded one hundred and twenty one million dollars to private contractors to oversee other private contractors.

Further, the Pentagon has outsourced the contracts to other defense contractors--so now one company is overseeing the practices of another company as they provide critical reconstruction services paid for with US taxpayer dollars.

Several of these, like the URS Group in San Francisco and Parsons Energy in Washington, also have large construction and logistical support contracts with the Pentagon in Iraq.

And you know what the really scary thing is? Because we've privatized these critical functions, we've removed the institutional means for oversight as well. Private companies aren't subject to review and don't have to reveal their records. They aren't subject to the Freedom of Information Act. And on and on.

Where are the defenders of the American taxpayer when you really need them?

posted by Jeff | 8:12 AM |
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