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A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have! - Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hillary Clinton Statement on Contracting Abuses in Iraq

After years of mismanagement and a fundamental lack of accountability in Iraq, we have almost come to expect reports like the one released by the Pentagon this week on faulty Iraq war contracting practices. Yet the report has new shocking details of billions of dollars of American taxpayer money unaccounted for and likely wasted, which should be a wake up call to Congress and the Bush administration that the status quo is unacceptable.

This new report indicates that the Pentagon doled out $8.2 billion in our taxpayers’ money without following basic rules to ensure it was being well-spent - or in some cases being spent for public purposes at all. It included more than $100 million in payments to our allies with no explanation for why. A cash payment of more than $300 million authorized with the equivalent of a signature on the back of a napkin. $10 million exchanged for a contractor’s voucher without any record of what was delivered. Meanwhile, another nearly $2 billion in seized or frozen Iraqi assets, much of it in stacks of cash, disappeared without any real accounting. The Pentagon itself is conceding this gross mismanagement.

As President, I would ensure our government is accountable for the taxpayer dollars it spends. I will make certain that the Pentagon is handling taxpayers’ money with care - and spending it in ways that demonstrably protect our troops and advance our security. These are the most basic functions of a government that operates with accountability and care. Restoring them requires leadership from the White House, as well as a set of new rules and checks to ensure the contracting payment system is working all the way down to the ground level. Among other things, I will:

Bring new transparency and competition to the federal contracting process including the public posting of a detailed description of the type and purpose of the work to be performed for every contract, with limited security exceptions.
Require senior government personnel, including political appointees, involved in the awarding of contracts to sign a sworn affidavit that they complied with open and competitive contracting rules, as well as addressing any financial conflicts of interest.
Restore a Clinton administration rule to require contractors to have a satisfactory record of compliance with the law.
Bar the practice of giving bonuses or awarding fees to contractors unless the contractor meets the stipulations related to cost, schedule, and performance outlined in the contract.
Appoint a special counsel to investigate where Iraq's oil profits are going and how reconstruction funds are being spent - or not spent.
Direct the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction to conduct regular reports on corruption in the oil industry, with the option of withholding aid if the Iraqi government does not show results in its anti-corruption efforts.
End the practice of awarding contracts to companies that use offshore tax havens in order to avoid paying taxes.
End the federal government’s overreliance on private contractors to carry out the federal government’s mission.

I will soon introduce legislation - and push aggressively for its passage - aimed at making our government contracting process work again.

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