In my last blog post, I talked about how the Army planned to have Lt. General Ross Thompson investigate contracts for the Iraq war that were issued in Kuwait, which is small part of the large contractor problem. They also plan to have Dr. Jacques Gansler lead a 45 day commission to look at Iraq contracting as a whole to make sure that the procurement system is working (its not).
Everyone involved in Iraq contracting knows that this is desperately needed. As I outlined in my book, Betraying Our Troops: The Destructive Results of Privatizing War, the contractors have run wild in Iraq with very little oversight and the huge bills are coming in. That might be all right if the troops were getting what they needed but they aren't. If you don't believe me, go to our website, www.followthemoneyproject.org and read some of our blogs and the numerous government reports.
In my last blog entry here, I was concerned that Dr. Gansler was not going to be tough enough on the contractors because his University of Maryland's new Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise, according to the university, "fosters collaboration among the public, private and nonprofit sectors to promote mutually beneficial public and private interests." His most recent comments on the commission's goals worry me even more
In an interview with Government Executive, Gansler seems to want to only look to the future without getting to the bottom of the systemic fraud from the large contractors for the past four years. The article states: "The leader of a recently announced commission on in-theater Army contracting said Tuesday that the investigation will be forward-looking, not a 'witch hunt' for existing problems. ... Jacques Gansler said his Special Commission on Army Contracting will focus on recommending changes to better prepare the Army to do business during expeditionary engagements."
No, no, no, Dr. Gansler, we need some tough love on these major contractors. The Army has let them run away with the supplemental budget and shortchange the troops. Some contractors have even threatened work stoppages in the battlefield. This has left the troops to do without and made their job even more difficult. The existing problems have become entrenched and will require some very tough reforms within the Army. Even if you suggest drastic and tough measures, you will need the help of the Congress to force the errant Army into doing the right thing with the contractors. Dr. Gansler has been around long enough to know these problems and they have festered during this war.
I am hoping that maybe, just maybe, Dr. Gansler will realize that his commission cannot be another exercise in Washington naval gazing because we have an ongoing war and the troops are counting on the Army. If his commission forces tough reforms, including penalizing contractors for past performance, his commission report due on October 31, will be a treat, not a trick on the troops. If he does nothing, the public and the media will have to force the Congress to take the drastic steps needed to right this horrible wrong done to our troops in a time of war.