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White House Shoots Down Army’s Effort To Increase Oversight Of Defense Contractors

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"White House Shoots Down Army’s Effort To Increase Oversight Of Defense Contractors"

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bush_uniform.jpgSince 2002, the Army’s contracting budget has ballooned from $46 billion to $112 billion in 2007. However, as the AP reported last week, the number of investigators charged with hunting down fraudulent or wasteful contracts has stayed the same, at less than 100 agents.

Now the Army has proposed adding five active-duty generals who would oversee purchasing and monitor contractor performance — a move recommended by a blue-ribbon panel last fall. But the White House, through the Office of Management and Budget, “has shot down” the Army’s plan:

According to a May 28 report to Congress on the status of the recommendations, Army Secretary Pete Geren said a proposal for five extra generals was submitted in March to OMB for approval. The office’s role is to ensure proposed budgets and legislation are consistent with the administration’s policies.

On May 12, the Army learned its proposal had been rejected. The report does not say why. A week after the rejection, the Army appealed OMB’s decision.

The Army’s proposal of adding five oversight generals would cost a mere $1.2 million a year in personnel costs. By contrast, a Defense Contract Audit Agency found $4.9 billion “in overpricing and waste” in Iraq contracts since 2003, which doesn’t include the additional $5.1 billion “in expenses charged without documentation.” In other words, the White House opposes a contract oversight proposal that would cost a mere .012 percent of the $10 billion already lost to contract waste.

Last year, the White House tried to block legislation that would limit the use of no-bid contracts and require greater congressional oversight. Despite Bush’s opposition, the Senate passed the bill unanimously, and the House approved it with 347 votes.

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