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Gansler Commission: "Urgent Reform Required"
Review Cites Understaffing, Lack of Training for Serious Contracting Problems
11/02/2007 10:07 AM ET
"Notwithstanding there being almost as many contractor personnel in the Kuwait/Iraq/Afghanistan theater as there are U.S. military, the Operational Army does not yet recognize the impact of contracting and contractors in expeditionary operations and on mission success," according to the Gansler Commission's report on the Army expeditionary contracting process.

Contracting should be considered an important priority and not as an "institutional side issue," according to the report, which described Army contract personnel as "understaffed, overworked, undertrained, undersupported, and, most important, undervalued."

Dr. Gansler said the first steps are to hire more contracting officers and to train them properly. While the workload in contracting actions has increased more than 350 percent in the last 12 years, he said the Army's contracting-oversight workforce has been almost cut in half.

"First and most important is the people," Dr. Gansler said this afternoon at a Department of Defense press conference. He recommended adding 400 Soldiers and 1,000 Civilians to the Army contracting force, and another 583 Army personnel to fill positions in the Defense Contract Management Agency.

He also recommended establishing an Army Contracting Agency and adding five generals to the Army contracting force, to give it stature and importance. In the 1990s, he said the Army had five generals on the contracting force.

The commission outlined four areas as critical to future success:

(1) Increased stature, quantity and career development for contracting personnel -- both military and civilian, particularly for expeditionary operations;

(2) Restructure of the organization and responsibility to facilitate contracting and contract management;

(3) Provide training and tools for overall contracting activities in expeditionary operations; and

(4) Obtain legislative, regulatory, and policy assistance to enable contracting effectiveness, important in expeditionary operations.

The commission also followed investigations and audits that identified contractors and government contracting officials for corrupt activity related to contingency contracting.

As of Oct. 23, 83 Army criminal investigations relating to contract fraud in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan were ongoing. While the cases vary in severity and complexity, most involve bribery. There are confirmed bribes in excess of $15 million, according to the Army Criminal Investigation Command.

So far 23 U.S. government employees, both military and civilian, have been charged or indicted in federal court. Contracts valued at more than $6 billion have been affected.

Dr. Gansler said that many of those who committed fraudulent acts were not actually contracting officers, but personnel who were asked to oversee contracts as a secondary responsibility.


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