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DOD lacks personnel to oversee contractors Print

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- The Defense Department has created a new office to oversee major service contracts.

The office will monitor contracts such as the $15 billion Halliburton one in Iraq.

The news is contained in a Dec. 18 Government Accountability Office report.

The Pentagon has set up the office of the assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for program support to have primary responsibility for issues related to contractor support.

The Defense Department has more than 60,000 support contractors in Iraq but no accurate tally of how many and where they are, according to the report. "By way of contrast, an estimated 9,200 contractor personnel supported military operations in the 1991 Gulf War," the report states.

The Pentagon increasingly relies on contractors to perform non-military functions in combat zones, a function of both budget restraints and the conviction that private companies can do the work more efficiently and free up uniformed personnel for combat roles.

However, the downsized military also lacks the personnel to oversee the contractors.

"The Army estimates that because of their limited visibility over contractors at deployed locations and the government services they are entitled to, about $43 million is lost every year on free meals being provided to contractor employees who are also receiving a per diem allowance for food," the report states.

Military officials assigned to oversee contractor support in Iraq are too few to ensure contract requirements are being met, the report states.

The logistics task order contract awarded to Halliburton subsidiary KBR for food and living services in Iraq in 2003 has cost more than $15.4 billion so far, according to the GAO. 

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