WASHINGTON – Corruption and waste has cost the US government billions of reconstruction dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an official study on wartime contracting released on Thursday.
The report found that "criminal behavior and blatant corruption" were responsible for much of the waste related to the nearly $200 billion spent since 2002 on US reconstruction and other projects in the two countries.
It did not give exact figures, but cited the Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report to Congress in January that found efforts were at clear risk because of poor planning and insufficient oversight.
Another estimate in the "Commission on Wartime Contracting" report found that losses to fraud alone in both war zones could be as high as $12 billion.
"When it comes to oversight of contingency contracting, we've been driving beyond the reach of our headlights. Reforms are badly needed," said the report.
"For many years, the government has abdicated its contracting responsibilities -- too often using contractors as the default mechanism -- without consideration for the resources needed to manage them."
The commission offers 32 recommendations to improve the situation in both Iraq and Afghanistan, where some 200,000 people are employed by subcontractors, including a decrease in dependence on private security and an increase in competition between subcontractors to lower prices.
It also called for a separate agency to oversee the different contractors currently overseen by the State Department, Pentagon and the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
The commission was established by Congress in 2008 under the model of the Truman Commission during World War II, which investigated US government spending during the conflict.