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Report: U.S. Has Wasted $30 Billion on Iraq, Afghanistan Contracts and Grants

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In this Aug. 27 photo, Afghan men listen to speeches, as Afghan and U.S. soldiers stand guard, background, in Washer district south of Kabul, Afghanistan.AP

The federal government has wasted more than $30 billion on contracts and grants in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new report set to be released Wednesday. 

The co-chairmen of the committee producing the report previewed the results, saying "major changes in law and policy" will be needed to prevent such a large degree of waste in future conflicts. Christopher Shays, a former Connecticut congressman, and Mark Thibault, a former Pentagon official overseeing contracts, blamed poor management and a slew of other factors in a Washington Post column

The amount of money wasted on Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade represents at least one in every six dollars spent. Part of the problem was contracts were doled out without "effective competition," while others were subcontracted to foreign firms not subject to U.S. laws. 

The result was a series of boondoggles. The co-chairmen cited a $40 million prison in Iraq that the country did not want and was not completed. They also cited a $300 million Kabul power plant -- which, like some other projects the co-chairmen expressed concern about, would require sustained funding and expertise that Kabul does not have the resources to provide. 

The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan will submit its report to Congress. 

The officials noted that because the number of contractors in the war zones has roughly equaled the number of military forces, the U.S. cannot conduct major operations without them. In the future, they recommended creating a "permanent inspector general for contingency operations," as well as an official who would work in the White House budget office and participate in National Security Council meetings to make sure agencies are properly coordinating contracts. 

They also recommended "more rigorous use of risk analysis" to determine whether certain jobs should be contracted out in the first place.