The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan (CWC) conducted a hearing today to check on the progress the Pentagon has made toward saving money on federal contracting for contingencies such as the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
Under Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter fielded questions on his “Better Buying Power” campaign, an effort to increase contractor competition, improve the acquisition process and reduce costs. The focus was on how his practice relates to the Department of Defense (DoD) contracting system.
In keeping with Sec. of Defense Robert Gates’ stated commitment to save $100 billion in Defense costs over five years, Carter issued a directive in November 2010 for a “Better Buying Power” initiative to boost efficiency and productivity. Areas of effort involving contracting include increasing use of fixed-price contracts, making more use of incentives, increasing competition for contracts, and improving acquisition practices by defining requirements more clearly and increasing small-business participation.
DoD spends heavily on contracts. As Carter noted in a February speech, "$400 billion of the Pentagon’s current $700 billion baseline plus war-supplemental budget goes to contracts for goods and services."
The commission recently submitted a policy proposal to Congress and President Obama. The report estimated that the U.S. has "wasted" tens of billions of dollars in contracting for Iraq and Afghanistan, and recommended a stricter practice to hold contractors and government personnel accountable.
Congress created the commission in 2008 and directed it to research federal contracting for reconstruction, logistical support, and security functions, and to recommend improvements.
CWC filed its first interim report to Congress in June 2009 and has since added a second interim and four special reports to Congress. The commission’s final report to Congress is due in July 2011.