I do not normally make it a habit of cheering for politicians, but if you are going to take shots at them you have to acknowledge when they get something right. Claire McCaskill has got something right, with her sponsorship of an amendment to bring an independent bi-partisan commission to oversee private defense contracts in the War in Iraq. The goal is to curtail the wasteful spending that has plagued this war from the beginning.
Several examples of waste or overbilling by KBR involving fuel supplies, meals for troops and other services have already come to light. The Pentagon’s own auditing office testified at the hearing on Tuesday that it has now withheld payment of $186 million — $10 million more than previously announced — to the company because of evidence that KBR may have billed the Pentagon for 36 percent more meals than it actually provided. The company, citing the chaos of the occupation, says it mistakenly overbilled for troop meals by only 19 percent.
But Mr. Walker said Tuesday that the problems with KBR and other company contracts were rooted in sloppy planning and deficient oversight practices by the Defense Department itself. He said the Pentagon has repeated many of the same costly contracting mistakes it made in past military actions, as in Kosovo and Afghanistan, but this time on a vaster scale.
In particular, Mr. Walker said, the form of contract now widely used by the military, known as cost-based or cost-plus, is subject to wasteful spending unless government agencies carefully define the likely scope of work and its reasonable cost — something that still has not occurred with many major programs in Iraq. Under such contracts, companies are repaid for their actual expenditures, then are paid a proportional fee and possible bonus on top of that. NY Times
The examples of waste and fraud is too numerous to document here and for too long the Congress has turned a blind eye to the waste and fraud. Now thanks to our very own Senator McCaskill there may soon be some badly needed oversight. I remember when she was campaigning, her record as State Auditor kept creeping into the election through negative ads and yet when given the opportunity Senator McCaskill is trying to bring some accountability to the black hole that has become Iraq. I wonder if Mr. Talent would have been as concerned with the war profiteering. Thank God we won’t have to find out.
In advocating the bill, Senator McCaskill quoted some Harry S. Truman, another Missourian who knew a thing or two about waste. Senator Truman had 60 years earlier made a declaration when his investigative commission began to investigate fraud and war profiteering during WWII.
But not before McCaskill took the floor and quoted Truman from 60 years earlier, when his investigative commission started.
“We intend to see that no man or corporate group of men shall profit inordinately on the blood of the boys in the foxhole,” she quoted. McClatchy News
Let’s send Senator McCaskill a hearty thanks for saving us taxpayers what could turn out to be billions of dollars. I plan to support the Senator and hope that likeminded progressives and Democrats do the same. Senator McCaskill as a freshman Senator has already done more to save Missourians money than our other Senator has done with a lot more time.
Senator Bond has been I Washington a lot longer and we heard nothing about the waste and mismanagement of the war. I hope the voters will remember his silence come Election Day.