State, DoD fall short in tracking $1.8B in contracts

Wednesday - 6/8/2011, 7:43pm EDT

By Courtney Thompson
Federal News Radio

The departments of State and Defense are under examination after a congressional report showed a lack of oversight in counternarcotics contracts.

The lack of basic information produced by both departments has created major problems in how they track the use of tax dollars by contractors in achieving goals to stop problems in Latin America, according to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight.

"It's becoming increasingly clear that our efforts to rein in the narcotics trade in Latin America, especially as it relates to the government's use of contractors, have largely failed," said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the chairwoman of the subcommittee.

The report comes after a May 2010 oversight hearing on this issue.

In this most recent report, the committee found discrepancies in the centralized tracking database. It also found State and DoD did not have the ability to keep up with the increase in the government's reliance on contractors as the cost of the contracts increased by 32 percent. The committee also found inadequate competition as five vendors--DynCorp, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, ITT, and ARINC--received the majority of the money, about $1.8 billion over five years.

Additionally, the report stated neither department has a uniform system of evaluating whether counternarcotics contracts are achieving their goals and cites numerous failures. During the time period under review, 2005 to 2009, one such award included millions given on a sole-source basis to an Alaska Native Corporation to provide meal services to Bolivia.

Within a five year time span, State and DoD spent approximately $840 million mostly on eight Latin American countries including Mexico, Columbia, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Haiti, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. "As we increase our counternarcotics contracting in Afghanistan, we can't make these same mistakes again and I will make sure that a watchful eye is kept on our tax dollars," McCaskill said.

Courtney Thompson is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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