Private contractors, mostly military
Privatization was hailed as a Godsend. Accountability, responsibility, for cheap has been the mantra of many, has this panned out? Note: The focus here is on Department of Defense. This doesn't mean there aren't problems else where.
It can only be estimated but the number of employees who are hired by private contractors and do "functions once carried by the U.S. military," is 127,000 according to Congressional testimony given in Aril of 2007. Pentagon officials say less than 20 percent are American (1 ).
It was reported in Nov 2008 that overall the Pentagon employs 163,000 contractors in Iraq 17 percent are Americans, 34 percent are third country nationals and 49 percent are Iraqi. The Agency for International Development has 4,800 contractors a break down of their nationalities are not available (2 ).
The exact numbers of contractors aren't always clear though co-chairman of the commission on wartime contracting Michael Thibault said "It is both peculiar and troubling that eight years after the overthrow of the Taliban regime, in Afghanistan, and more than six years since the overthrow of Baathist regime in Iraq, we still don't know how many contractor employees are working in the region," and noted "How can contractors be properly managed if we aren't sure how many there are, where they are and what are they doing?" (3 ). How about efficiency how about overall security too?
A memo written by now retired Army chief Thomas White warned Pentagon officials they had little control over private contractors(4 ). This memo was written a year before the Iraq Invasion. White Complained to three Pentagon undersecretaries that "credible information on contract labor does not exist internal to the (Army) Department." And the Army could not get rid of "unnecessary, costly or unsuitable contracted work" unless they had full details of the contracts(5 ).
Dan Guttman, an attorney and government contracting expert at Johns Hopkins University said "You've got thousands of people running around on taxpayer dollars that the Pentagon can't account for in any way," And continued "Contractors are invisible, even at the highest level of the Pentagon."(6 ).
Bad things can happen
Retired Army Col Anthony Bell was in charge of Iraq reconstruction between 2003 and 2004. US Air Force Col Ronald Hirtle who was senior contracting officer in Baghdad in 2004. Both men worked in a civilian contracting office in Iraq and are being investigated for widespread corruption that was alleged that went on in Iraq (7 ).
An audit Reported in April 2008 and released by the inspector general for Iraq reconstruction Stuart Bowen Jr. the review of 47,321 projects found that least 855 were stopped before completion primarily because of unforeseen factors such as violence and excessive costs. 112 of those ended because of the contractors' actual or anticipated poor performance. The incomplete contracts are worth millions of dollars (8 ).
Special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction Stuart Bowen estimates that about 3 billion of the 20 billion that was spent on Iraq reconstruction was wasted(9 ).
More specific information