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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

U.S. picks up $700 million tab for coalition’s food and laundry in Afghanistan -- Military failed to pass along bills to other countries in Afghanistan -- By Jim McElhatton, The Washington Times

In a staggering loss of money even by Pentagon standards, the U. S. military and two contractors left American taxpayers on the hook for more than $700 million in food, laundry and other services that should have been billed to countries that sent troops to Afghanistan.

Coalition countries tacitly agreed to reimburse the Army, but U.S. regional commands in Afghanistan frequently failed to pass along the charges, according to audit records obtained by The Washington Times through the Freedom of Information Act.

The failures, which spanned a 27-month period from 2010 to 2012, included contractors, who didn't report the costs of services to coalition forces, and poorly trained military overseers who neglected to enforce key contract terms with the two companies, identified as DynCorp and Fluor.

What's more, the lapses occurred just as sequestration loomed and Pentagon leaders scrambled to slash spending. Indeed, by one measure, the cost of Afghanistan-based billing failures represents nearly 60 percent of the $1.2 billion that the Pentagon saved by furloughing 640,450 civilian employees.

The billing problems, detailed in an internal Army Audit Agency report sent to U.S. commanders in Afghanistan last summer, also raise questions about oversight of the Army's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, a multibillion-dollar outsourcing program that uses contractors to support deployed troops.

"The mismanagement of $700 million in reimbursements is mind-blowing, and we need to hold all parties involved accountable," said Scott Amey, general counsel of the Project on Government Oversight. "Contractors need to estimate coalition partner costs, and the Army must get bills out the door and push to recoup every penny that is owed."

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