THE BLOG
11/30/2009 02:22 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

War Fraud Whistleblowers Under Wraps

I have been concerned for years that whistleblowers who have filed qui tam False Claims Act cases have been unable to talk because their cases have been under seal for years. Considering the concerns of the cost of sending more troops to Afghanistan, I wrote this piece for Truthout.org.

Recently, the Congressional Research Service released an amazing statistic - it will cost one million dollars a year to support one soldier for one year in Afghanistan.

This mind-blowing number partly includes the cost of private contractors who have moved into areas of support that have been strictly military in the past. Estimates for the numbers of contractors have been as high as one contractor for every soldier. As President Obama prepares to announce his decision on Afghanistan, the price of this war is also on his mind since he included Peter Orszag, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, in his last war council.

One of the reasons for the high costs of maintaining each soldier is the lack of oversight of private contractor billings over the course of these two wars. The Department of Defense (DOD), and especially the Army, has fought the auditors and the investigators in the military who have attempted to expose fraud, waste, overbillings and other abuses of costs in contractor contracts. The contractors, using contingency contracting, which is similar to the old cost plus contracts, knew that their profits and, more important, their future task orders and contracts would be priced based on what they spend in the beginning of the wars. So the contractor billing meter, especially in labor costs, spun vigorously in the first years of the war with little oversight. When the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) tried to withhold a small percentage of payment from KBR, the largest contractor, because it believed that the billings were excessive and they wanted to scrub the numbers, the Army pushed past the DCAA and paid KBR the excessive costs. This set the tone to let the contractor billings run wild.

To read more go to http://www.truthout.org/1130094