U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill took the next step in her fight to pass legislation to reform wartime contracting, chairing a Senate hearing to gather feedback on the bill from federal agencies, Inspectors General, and the measure's lead cosponsor, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia.
McCaskill, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, used a hearing to review the need for the legislation and assess steps taken by departments and agencies to implement recommendations by the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan-an independent, bipartisan panel McCaskill and Webb created through legislation they introduced in 2007.
"This legislation will increase accountability for wartime contracting and transform the way the federal government awards, manages, and oversees wartime contracts," McCaskill said. "It will help ensure that the waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement that we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan never happens again."
Citing the waste through contract fraud that the commission identified in Iraq and Afghanistan, McCaskill reiterated that "the time to fix these problems is now, while the memory is fresh and before the harsh lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan are forgotten... Today, and in the weeks and months to come, we have an opportunity to make real changes to the way the government spends money during wartime," McCaskill told the witnesses. "And it is not too late to prevent the problems in Iraq and Afghanistan from occurring in the next war, whenever and wherever that may be."
McCaskill and Webb introduced the Comprehensive Contingency Contracting Reform Act of 2012 (S. 2139) following the final report to Congress from the Commission. The legislation would overhaul the federal government's planning, management, and oversight of contracting during overseas contingency operations.
While speaking with the Inspectors General from the agencies, McCaskill also blasted the failure of the White House to appoint permanent Inspectors General. McCaskill, who pointed out the three witnesses today are all serving in acting roles and called the lack of action on the part of the administration "appalling,". McCaskill has previously called on the President to appoint permanent inspectors general for the vacant or acting positions, cautioning that inspectors general are too important in protecting taxpayer dollars to stall in finding qualified people to fill the offices.
McCaskill heard testimony from witnesses at the Defense and State Departments, and the U.S. Agency for International Development about lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan and how those lessons can be applied to improve the legislation in a pragmatic and meaningful way.