|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Military officials said Thursday that contracts worth $6 billion to provide essential supplies to American troops in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan — including food, water and shelter — were under review by criminal investigators, double the amount the Pentagon had previously disclosed.
In addition, $88 billion in contracts and programs, including those for body armor for American soldiers and matériel for Iraqi and Afghan security forces, are being audited for financial irregularities, the officials said.
Taken together, the figures, provided by the Pentagon in a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, represent the fullest public accounting of the magnitude of a widening government investigation into bid-rigging, bribery and kickbacks by members of the military and civilians linked to the Pentagon’s purchasing system.
Until the hearing on Thursday, the Army’s most detailed public disclosure about the scale of the problem was that contracts worth $3 billion awarded by the Kuwait office were under review.
At the hearing, a panel of high-ranking Defense Department officials described a war-zone procurement system in disarray. They said that the Pentagon failed to provide adequate training for contracting officers for their assignments, offered insufficient oversight of contracting officers’ activities and had not put in place early warning systems to catch officers who violated the law.
“In a combat environment, we didn’t have the checks and balances we should have in place,” said Shay D. Assad, director of defense procurement and acquisition policy. “So people who don’t have ethics and integrity are going to be able to get away with things.”