Weak Oversight of Security Contracting Undermining U.S. Efforts in War Zones
October 8, 2010
POGO is calling for stronger contract oversight and a serious reevaluation of whether security should be outsourced in war zones in response to a Senate Armed Services Committee report issued yesterday called "Inquiry into the Role and Oversight of Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan." The report details how a web of contracting in Afghanistan may be fueling warlords, some of whom are allied with the Taliban.
"More money means more problems if there isn't sufficient oversight of security contractors. The most important question to ask, though, is if we should be using contractors at all where there is no rule of law," said Danielle Brian, POGO's executive director. "Several government reports say we're funding people who are undermining our efforts in Afghanistan."
There are more than 26,000 private security contractor employees in Afghanistan, an estimated 90 percent of which are funded by U.S contracts and subcontracts. Over the last year and a half, the U.S. has, as part of its ramp-up in activities in Afghanistan, substantially increased the amount of money for contracting in that country.
Brian testified before the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan in June on whether private security contractors are performing inherently governmental functions.
Past reports detail similar problems in both Afghanistan and Iraq. For example:
A U.S. Agency for International Development Inspector General report in 2008 said Iraqi insurgents (as subcontractors) were being funded by a U.S.-taxpayer funded trash collection program.
In 2009, New York University's Center for International Co-operation issued a report that said U.S. funding of private security contractors was fueling a new warlordism in Afghanistan.
The House Oversight subcommittee on national security issued a June 2010 report called "Warlord, Inc.," that detailed how U.S. funded trucking contractors are using subcontractors who are warlords themselves, how Afghan officials extort money to allow access to roads, and how the Taliban may be funded by bribes to not attack convoys.
Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.
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