State Department Use of Contractors Leaps in 4 Years
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: November 11th, 2007
Over the past four years, the amount of money the State Department pays to private security and law enforcement contractors has soared to nearly $4 billion a year from $1 billion, ... but ... the department had added few new officials to oversee the contracts. Auditors and outside exerts say the results have been vast cost overruns, poor contract performance and, in some cases, violence that has so far gone unpunished. A vast majority of the money goes to companies like DynCorp International and Blackwater [Worldwide] to protect diplomats overseas, train foreign police forces and assist in drug eradication programs. There are only 17 contract compliance officers at the State Departments management bureau overseeing spending of the billions of dollars on these programs, officials said. Two new reports have delivered harsh judgments about the State Departments handling of the contracts, including the protective services contract that employs Blackwater guards whose involvement in a Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad has raised questions about their role in guarding American diplomats in Iraq. The ballooning budget for outside contracts at the State Department is emblematic of a broader trend, contracting experts say. The Bush administration has doubled the amount of government money going to all types of contractors to $400 billion, creating a new and thriving class of post-9/11 corporations carrying out delicate work for the government. But the number of government employees issuing, managing and auditing contracts has barely grown. Thats a criticism thats true of not just State but of almost every agency, said Jody Freeman, an expert on administrative law at Harvard Law School.