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As Much As $60 Billion Of 'Waste And Fraud' In War-Related Contracts

"At least $31 billion, and possibly as much as $60 billion, has been lost to contract waste and fraud in America's contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," the independent and bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan reported this morning.

That's out of the $206 billion that's expected to have been spent on contracts and grants in those two countries by the end of September, the commission says.

In its report, the commission adds that:

"Much of the contingency-contract waste and fraud could have been avoided. Unless changes are made, continued waste and fraud will undercut the effectiveness of money spent in future operations, whether they involve hostile threats overseas or national emergencies here at home requiring military participation and interagency response. Responsibility for this state of affairs lies with Congress, the White House, federal departments, the military services, agency leadership, contractors, and individuals who abuse the system."

Among the problems it found:

-- "Ill-conceived" projects.

-- "Poor planning and oversight by the U.S. government."

-- "Poor performance on the part of contractors."

-- "Criminal behavior and blatant corruption."

The commission's 15 recommendations include creation of "a permanent office of inspector general for contingency operations" to provide "critical monitoring from the onset" of such events.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.