Bill would set up library for contingency contracting

Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) has introduced legislation that would create a permanent inspector general for contingency contracting, a recommendation in a document about operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill also would establish a training center.

The Contingency Operation and Emergency Oversight Act (H.R. 2880) introduced Sept. 9 would establish the IG position with audit and oversight authorities and a “Center for Contingency Contracting.”

The center would be a resource library of reports related to contingency contracting and archives from commissions, IGs, and even congressional committee reports on the subject.

The center would host discussions and hold seminars on the unique issues related to contracting in wartime situations. Overall, it would serve as a training center for federal employees. It would support employees’ continuing scholarship on the oversight of wartime contracting, according to the bill.

“We need to enhance our resources and capabilities to transcend the silos in which many agencies all too often operate,” Tierney said.

The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan found there are no standardized certification requirements and training for auditors and investigators.

“A central office within a permanent inspector general that develops, plans, and delivers training for auditors and investigators who may be required to work in contingencies could help resolve this problem,” it wrote in its final report released in August.

The commission also recommended the permanent IG position. It found little increase in the number of oversight officials while the personnel and resources in these war-torn countries have grown immensely.

“Given the dramatic increases in resources, personnel, and contingency contracts being deployed in the two theaters, no agency operating in Afghanistan and Iraq has sufficiently bolstered its audit and investigation capabilities,” the commission wrote.

Many agencies work in those countries and each one brings its IG oversight offices and audit agency in addition to the governmentwide Government Accountability Office. The multiple auditing offices struggle to coordinate work among themselves, leading to overlapping requests to officials for reports and interviews.

“None of these audit or investigative agencies, except GAO, has the authority to look at all aspects of contingency operations,” the commission wrote.

Tierney’s bill also would close down the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction at the end of fiscal 2012, and also the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction a year later.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

Reader Comments

Wed, Sep 14, 2011

Two comments on this bill: 1. What's wrong with existing agency IG's and their ability to oversee their own agency's contigency contracting? There is nothing so inherently special here that the current IG structure can't look at. 2. If you want to stop all contigency contracting - i.e. the government's ability to respond quickly in an emergency - this is a good way to do it.

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