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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Poor Contracting Hindering Iraq Reconstruction

The Department of Defense (DOD) effort to reconstruct Iraq following the U.S. invasion is being hampered by poor contracting with companies and inadequate security, a government watchdog agency says.

DOD has relied extensively on private contractors to undertake major reconstruction projects and provide support to its deployed forces in Iraq, but these efforts have not always achieved desired outcomes, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAO is the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress.

Further, the Iraqi government must be able to reduce violence, sustain reconstruction progress, improve basic services, and make a positive difference in the daily lives of the Iraqi people, GAO says.

"The challenges faced by DOD on its reconstruction and support contracts often reflect systemic and long-standing shortcomings in DOD’s capacity to manage contractor efforts. Such shortcomings result from poorly defined or changing requirements, the use of poor business arrangements, the absence of senior leadership and guidance, and an insufficient number of trained contracting, acquisition and other personnel to manage, assess and oversee contractor performance, the GAO says in a new report. "In turn, these shortcomings manifest themselves in higher costs to taxpayers, schedule delays, unmet objectives, and other undesirable outcomes."

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