Pentagon Has No Idea What 108,000 Contractors Are Doing

Photo: AP Photo/Gervasio Sanchez
By DAVID FRANCIS, The Fiscal Times June 3, 2013

The number of contractors working in Afghanistan now vastly outnumbers American troops stationed there, according to a Congressional Research Service report. CRS, along with the Government Accountability Office, also determined that the Pentagon is unable to properly document the work these contractors are doing. And the information DOD is receiving is often unreliable and inaccurate.

According to CRS, there are now 108,000 private workers in Afghanistan, a workforce that dwarfs the 65,700 American troops still stationed there. That means there are 1.6 contractors for every American soldier in Afghanistan. This is an increase from last month, when The Fiscal Times reported that there were 1.4 contractors per American soldier.

Given the size of the private forces, it’s not surprising that CRS found that in recent years, the Defense Department spent more than any other agency to support contractor work.

“Over the last six fiscal years, DOD obligations for contracts performed in the Iraq and Afghanistan areas of operation were approximately $160 billion and exceeded total contract obligations of any other U.S. federal agency,” CRS found. Continue reading “Pentagon Has No Idea What 108,000 Contractors Are Doing”

White House Backing Down on Contractor Compensation Cap

POGO Project On Government Oversight - Blog

White House Backing Down on Contractor Compensation Cap

 May 30, 2013

Updated 5/31/2013

The White House is backing down on its call to significantly reduce the cap on compensation for defense and civilian contractor employees. Last year, the White House proposed reducing the cap to $200,000, roughly equal to a Senate proposal to reduce the cap to $230,700. Despite those efforts, the reduced cap was stripped by the conference committee. Instead, Congress approved a Government Accountability Office report on contractor compensation (Sect. 864).

Now, the White House is backing a significantly higher compensation cap of $400,000 for federal contractor employees. The proposal is in the Defense Department’s legislative package that was sent to Congress in mid-March and, according to Federal News Radio and the file’s metadata, the author of the proposal was an Office of Federal Procurement Policy official. Continue reading “White House Backing Down on Contractor Compensation Cap”

White House proposal capping contractor payments falls short, union says

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White House proposal capping contractor payments falls short, union says

Half-hearted proposal doesn’t come close to matching sacrifices incurred by federal employees

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Obama administration’s proposal to lower the cap on government contractor compensation doesn’t go nearly far enough to level the playing field between lavishly paid contractors and front-line federal workers, the head of the largest federal employee union said today.

“The administration’s proposal is completely inadequate.  It still requires taxpayers to reimburse contractors for exorbitant sums, while federal employees are suffering pay freezes and cuts due to furloughs,” AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. said. Continue reading “White House proposal capping contractor payments falls short, union says”

Obama administration urges Congress to cap contractor pay at president’s salary

Obama administration urges Congress to cap contractor pay at president’s salary

By Josh Hicks, Published: May 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm

(Carolyn Kaster/AP)

(Carolyn Kaster/AP)

The Obama administration on Thursday called for Congress to slow the growth of executive pay for government contractors, arguing that current compensation levels have grown excessive.

The White House budget office unveiled a legislative proposal that would prohibit the government from reimbursing private firms for salaries that exceed the president’s federal earnings, which are $400,000 per year, except when specialized skills are needed.

The plan would only affect payments that are made retroactively through so-called cost-reimbursement contracts. Under such agreements, which are often used when final costs are hard to predict, the government promises to pay whatever costs a company incurs as it completes a project — like a blank check with certain limits. Continue reading “Obama administration urges Congress to cap contractor pay at president’s salary”

Ten Questions That USASpending.Gov Can’t Answer

POGO Project On Government Oversight - Blog

 Ten Questions That USASpending.Gov Can’t Answer

May 15, 2013

1. How many federal dollars are spent in my community?

Problem: gives limited state-level spending summaries, but there is no data on a more local level. Searching for federal contract and assistance awards by congressional district, one will find an alarming number of “Unknown” congressional districts (and even some districts blatantly lumped together)—unknown districts with billions of dollars of funding over the years make the whole dataset suspect. There are no spending summaries on a county or municipal level.

2. What small businesses in my community are receiving federal dollars?

Problem: While some data on this is available on, many local businesses and organizations are left out. Only the first two levels of award recipients are reported, prime awardees (e.g., states) and first-tier sub-awardees (e.g., counties and municipalities). Often there are several levels of federal spending allocation, so local businesses can be second or third-tier sub-awardees and thus are left out of reporting. Continue reading “Ten Questions That USASpending.Gov Can’t Answer”