$20 Billion in Afghanistan, Iraq Contract Cash Goes to Unidentified Companies

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Ah, Iraq. The land of milk and honey for a defense contractor. Not that all those contractors have such high profiles. In fact, due to a clever bit of disclosure chicanery, some of them are completely unknown, even to budget watchdogs.

The Center for Public Integrity’s brand-new report on Iraq contracting, Windfalls of War II, identifies at least $20 billion in contract money that has gone to non-U.S. companies that it cannot identify:

When the 2003 study was published, federal agencies did not comprehensively distinguish war contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan from other government contracts; therefore, Center researchers had to flush out these contracts one by one. Since then, however, most such contracts list Iraq or Afghanistan as their “place of performance,” making the contracting process more transparent and the search for data—available from the General Service Administration’s Federal Procurement Data System—more methodical.

But not all contracts for Iraq and Afghanistan are reported in this federal data system, including awards originating at one contracting agency in Baghdad, which reports only some aggregate totals for inclusion in the central database. Because the agency has so far refused to furnish these missing contracts, the Center is now seeking copies via Freedom of Information Act requests.

What would happen to you, do you think, if you couldn’t account for, oh, $2,000 of your boss’s money? And then pleaded that there was a glitch in the database you maintain to keep track of the cash?