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November 20, 2007

$20 billion in war contracts goes to mystery firms

A disturbing new report from the Center For Public Integrity found that $20 billion dollars of war contracts have gone to firms the Centers' investigators cannot identify.

These contracts went to non-US firms identified simply as "miscellaneous foreign entities" in the General Services Administration's Federal Procurement Data System.

It gets worse. The $20 billion figure only includes contracts that made it into the FPDS--and not all of them do:

When the 2003 study was published, federal agencies did not comprehensively distinguish war contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan from other government contracts; therefore, Center researchers had to flush out these contracts one by one. Since then, however, most such contracts list Iraq or Afghanistan as their "place of performance," making the contracting process more transparent and the search for data—available from the General Service Administration's Federal Procurement Data System—more methodical.

But not all contracts for Iraq and Afghanistan are reported in this federal data system, including awards originating at one contracting agency in Baghdad, which reports only some aggregate totals for inclusion in the central database. Because the agency has so far refused to furnish these missing contracts, the Center is now seeking copies via Freedom of Information Act requests. [CPI]

Just to put that $20 billion in perspective.... The total value of known war contracts with unknown firms is greater than the value of all contracts awarded to KBR, Inc. CPI found that KBR raked in approximately $16 billion worth of war contracts during the  study period, more than any other single firm.

[HT: Spencer Ackerman]

Hey, Hivemind: What are the rules for reporting to FPDS? Might agencies be breaking laws when they fail to report the identities the firms they contract with? Or when they fail to submit contracts to the federal data system?


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Oh brother. Who didn't see this coming, and why didn't they stop it?

Stop it? Why the heck do you think they were airfreighting pallet-loads of shrink-wrapped $100 bills into the country right behind Ahmed Chalabi? (363 tons of cash, according to LexisNexis)

Sorry, that should've read convicted fraudster Ahmed Chalabi... My mistake.

Dune, that was MY first thought, too. IS this part of the palleted cash or addl?

I believe the shrink-wrapped cash is over and above the $20 billion in contracts to miscellaneous foreign entities.

The report didn't say what percentage of that $20 billion had already been paid out, as opposed to merely awarded. The airlift money is gone without a trace. I would die happy if I could break that story... ("Die" being the operative word, but it would be worth it.)

It's possible that some of that airlifted cash-money found its way back to the accounts of US government agencies that are using it to pay for contracted services, but I suspect most of it went elsewhere.

The $20 billion is probably coming out the war funding that Congress keeps giving these hapless fuckups through more conventional channels.

Don't worry, hard-nosed prosecutor, America's mayor, and all-around tough guy Rudy Giuliani will clean this mess up as soon as he moves into the White House.

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