September 19, 2006

Wyden, Dorgan Win Approval of Amendment to End Outsourcing of Iraq Reconstruction on Oversight

Senators' legislation accepted into Dept. of Defense authorization bill

Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) today won Senate approval of an amendment prohibiting the renewal of any current contract outsourcing the oversight of Iraq reconstruction to non-governmental entities. The amendment, accepted for inclusion in the Department of Defense reauthorization bill, also prohibits future private oversight contracts unless the U.S. government is entirely unable provide personnel to perform direct oversight, and prohibits the letting of private contracts if there is even an appearance of conflict of interest for the private company. In every case, the amendment requires appropriate military or civilian personnel to supervise and evaluate contractor performance in Iraq reconstruction. Dorgan and Wyden first called on the Pentagon last month to stop outsourcing the oversight of large Iraq reconstruction contracts to private companies, saying $130 million worth of current contracting arrangements are rife with potential conflicts of interest and open the door to significant additional waste of taxpayer dollars in Iraq. "Oversight should be performed by the government and not private contractors, particularly those with apparent conflicts of interest," said Wyden. "The outsourcing of oversight on Iraq reconstruction is a costly, unsound practice that never should have been permitted in the first place and it's time to close the door on it now. This amendment can save American taxpayers untold additional dollars by placing accountability for Iraq reconstruction squarely with the Department of Defense." "This is a real victory for taxpayers," said Dorgan. "Our amendment makes clear that oversight of how billions of taxpayer dollars are spent is a fundamental responsibility of the government, not something to be handed off to other private contractors. Making sure tax dollars are spent honestly and wisely is a top priority and anyone in government who might have thought otherwise just got a wake up call from the Senate." Wyden, Dorgan and U.S. Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and John Dingell (D-Mich.) last month unveiled a joint report from the House Government Affairs Committee and the Senate Democratic Policy Committee detailing nearly $130 million in spending on reconstruction oversight contracts for seven private contractors. Today, Wyden and Dorgan also encouraged Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) and Ranking Member Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in their efforts to extend the term of the Coalition Provisional Authority Inspector General (CPA-IG) to allow additional oversight of current Iraq reconstruction contracts by the Federal government. Consideration of the Department of Defense authorization bill continues this week in the Senate.