As much as $60 billion has been wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan — and that amount could skyrocket as the United States withdraws, according to a bipartisan commission on wartime contracting.
The Associated Press reported that the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, which will submit its report to Congress on Wednesday, says that the billions of dollars were lost due to waste and fraud from poor planning, ineffective oversight of contractors and payments to warlords and insurgents.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) wrote in a statement emailed Tuesday to the AP that “it is disgusting to think that nearly a third of the billions and billions we spent on contracting was wasted or used for fraud.”
The commission also stated that the $60 billion figure could grow as maintenance costs take precedence over reconstruction.
In Iraq and Afghanistan, spending on contracting is on pace to exceed $206 billion by the end of 2011 — and contracting waste in Afghanistan is between 10 to 20 percent of that total, according to the report. Fraud accounts for 5 to 9 percent of the total.
The commission said that although calculating exact amounts is difficult, the information it has acquired shows that anywhere from $31 billion to $60 billion has been lost. The report’s co-authors wrote in a Washington Post op-ed piece on Sunday that more than $30 billion had been wasted.
According to the AP, the commission called the $31 billion to $60 billion estimate “conservative.”
Better planning and oversight could have eliminated much of the waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the report, and the commission suggested that federal agencies reexamine and change how contracts are given and supervised.
As the U.S. begins to withdraw its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, the commission noted, the risk of waste and fraud increases. The new infrastructure built with U.S. funds must be kept up, and local army and police forces must be paid — if the Iraqi and Afghan governments cannot pay for these costs, the commission stated, the investment will have been wasted.
The AP obtained a copy of the 240-page report prior to its scheduled public release.
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