Senators go after waste in wartime contracting

Sen. James Webb, D-Va. Sen. James Webb, D-Va. Shizuo Kambayashi/AP

Citing massive problems with waste and fraud, lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation to improve oversight of wartime contract spending.

Co-authored by Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Jim Webb, D-Va., the Comprehensive Contingency Contracting Reform Act would overhaul the federal government’s planning, management and oversight of contract spending in areas of conflict.

In August 2011, the independent, bipartisan Wartime Contracting Commission reported that as a result of poor procurement oversight, federal agencies wasted as much as $60 billion of the more than $205 billion spent on private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. McCaskill and Webb first introduced the legislation to create the commission in 2007, using as their model the Truman Committee, which investigated waste and fraud during World War II.

Thursday’s legislation focuses on four areas of wartime contracting: elevating oversight responsibility, requiring the government to identify how it will pay for overseas military operations, increasing transparency and competition, and instituting additional provisions for contractor accountability. It specifically requires the Defense and State departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development to exercise more authority and responsibility over the contractors they work with.

“You can bet that contractors who’ve made billions off of U.S. taxpayers aren’t excited about a crackdown,” McCaskill said in a statement. “But with the roadmap provided by the commission report, we can change the way our government contracts during wartime and make sure these failures are never repeated.”

Webb, former secretary of the Navy, stated the bill recognizes the work of support contractors and the “necessity to improve government management and accountability in the contracting process that resulted in unacceptable costs, excessive waste and substandard performance in far too many areas.”

Scott Amey, general counsel to the Project on Government Oversight praised the bill saying, “No matter the policy or ideological reasons for hiring wartime contractors, this bill provides an improved set of checks and balances that will save taxpayers billions.”

Professional Services Council President and Chief Executive Officer Stan Soloway, however, expressed concerns that the bill’s provisions are too inflexible for agencies to efficiently meet their missions.

“This bill is largely a package to correct some contingency problems that arose during the last decade,” Soloway said. “If legislation is necessary to address those problems, it should seek to strengthen the mechanics, flexibilities and appropriate controls for contingencies.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.