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Panel: Widespread waste and fraud in war spending

August 31, 2011
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Source: Ap

WASHINGTON (AP) — As much as $60 billion in U.S. tax dollars has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade due to lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and corruption, according to an independent panel.

In its final report to Congress, to be publicly released Wednesday, the Commission on Wartime Contracting said the waste could grow as U.S. support for reconstruction projects and programs wanes, leaving Iraq and Afghanistan to bear the long-term costs of sustaining the schools, medical clinics, barracks, roads and power plants already built with American money.

Government agencies should overhaul the way they award and manage contracts in war zones so they don't repeat the mistakes made in Iraq and Afghanistan, the commission said. Among the report's 15 recommendations are the creation of an inspector general to monitor contracting and the appointment of a senior government official to improve planning and coordination.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the commission's 240-page report in advance of its public release. The commission was established by Congress in 2008 and ceases operating at the end of September.

Overall, the commission said spending on contracts and grants to support U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to exceed $206 billion by the end of the 2011 budget year. Based on its investigation, the commission said contracting waste in Afghanistan ranged from 10 percent to 20 percent of the $206 billion total. Fraud during the same period ran between 5 percent and 9 percent of the total, the report said.

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