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Trial by Fire: Overseas Contracting in Transition
The transition in Iraq from the Defense to the State Department was the largest civilian logistics operation since World War II. The State Department absorbed hundreds of functions traditionally undertaken by DoD, and a robust new role in contingency contracting. Federal News Radio's special report, Trial by Fire: Overseas Contracting in Transition, examines how key officials at DoD and State planned the transition and how they reformed contingency contracting management over the past decade.
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In a first-ever interview, key officials from the Departments of Defense and State responsible for planning the transition to a diplomatic-led mission in Iraq discuss how the two agencies coordinated one of the largest overseas logistical operations since World War II. The article is the first part in Federal News Radio's special report, Trial by Fire: Overseas Contracting in Transition.
When the Defense Department began contingency contracting operations on a large-scale in Iraq in 2003 it was largely a trial by fire. Despite the best planning, DoD lacked the programs and practical solutions to handle the environment, officials say. Since then, commissions, panels and lawmakers have offered fixes and DoD has evolved to try to create "rock-solid" reforms.
The State Department's share of overseas contingency contracting has grown over the last few years as the department took on new activities and functions as the military departed Iraq. Still, the budget shows, the Defense Department is the main player in overseas contingency contracting. And there's no guarantee Congress won't turn to the foreign affairs budget in its efforts to dramatically reduce the deficit.
Ever since 2003, contractors have played a major role in the contingency operations in Iraq. But with the transition to a State Department-led diplomatic mission there, some analysts believe contractors will play an even more central role. In the final part of the special series, Trial by Fire: Overseas Contracting in Transition, Federal News Radio examines how industry fared in the DoD-to-State handoff and whether State's enhanced role spells new opportunities for contractors.