Saturday, December 19, 2009

We Wouldn't Build a Street this Way

Among the reasons the US war in Afghanistan is failing:

“From June 2009 to September 2009, there was a 40% increase in Defense Department contractors in Afghanistan. During the same period, the number of armed private security contractors working for the Defense Department in Afghanistan doubled, increasing from approximately 5,000 to more than 10,000.” Counterpunch quoting a report by Sen. Claire McCaskill's Contract Oversight subcommittee.

The story goes on to relate
that "another group of contractors that often goes unmentioned: 3,600 State Department contractors and 14,000 USAID contractors. That means that the current total US force in Afghanistan is approximately 189,000 personnel (68,000 US troops and 121,000 contractors).

"Despite the massive number of contracts and contractors in Afghanistan, oversight is utterly lacking. 'The increase in Afghanistan contracts has not seen a corresponding increase in contract management and oversight,' according to McCaskill’s briefing paper....

"A former USAID official, Michael Walsh, the former director of USAID’s Office of Acquisition and Assistance and Chief Acquisition Officer, told the Commission that many USAID staff are 'administering huge awards with limited knowledge of or experience with the rules and regulations.' According to one USAID official, the agency is 'sending too much money, too fast with too few people looking over how it is spent.' As a result, the agency does not 'know … where the money is going.' "

I'm not saying war and street construction are the same type of operation, but we pay significant for construction inspection - we try to never allow dirt on top of a new water line without an inspector on site. The Obama administration is allowing every aspect of the war to be run in large measure by private contractors without oversight. Is it any wonder some "water lines" get laid poorly, or in the wrong place, or not at all?

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