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In Depth with Francis Rose features daily interviews with top government executives and contractors. Listen live from 4 to 7 p.m. or download his archived interviews on our daily show blogs.
Wartime Contracting Comm. on billing, human trafficking
Wednesday - 7/28/2010, 2:04pm EDT
"Federal News Radio has told you about nearly $9 billion dollars being unaccounted for in Iraq reconstruction funds. Yesterday, the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan was told about up to $21 billion in questioned and unsupported costs in Iraq contracts.
"Commission co-chair Mike Thibault told Federal News Radio about another, equally disturbing, allegation: that subcontractors are using human trafficking to fill the jobs.
"At least a third of the 200,000 contracted employees in Iraq and Afghanistan work for subcontractors, and many of them are allegedly slaves.
"Since they work for subcontractors, the government has no direct oversight into who they are and what they do.
"Thibault said another focus of the Commission yesterday was on a Defense Contract Audit Agency review of prime contractors' billing and cost records.
"'Pat Fitzgerald (Director of DCAA) indicated he's now up to $21 billion dollars in questioned and unsupported costs where he's taken exceptions out of some $97 billion dollars in contract awards. That is just unprecedented in terms of percentage.'
"Both issues, said Thibault, are a result of oversight, or a lack of it. The government is supposed to have oversight of the prime contractors, who in turn are supposed to have oversight of the subs.
"Thibault said he'd like to see a change in the law so the government can have more oversight and access to subs. Contractors, of course, are pushing back, but between the costs and human rights issues being raised, current oversight clearly isn't getting the job done.
"Or, as Thibault put it, 'this is a major miss.'"
I played highlights from the first two panels on the show today. I'll have highlights from the third panel on Wednesday's show.
Panel One - Government officials
Panel Two - Contractors
Panel Three - Subcontractors