US: Investigators Urge More Oversight of Halliburton

"We are recommending that the Secretary of Defense designate a LOGCAP coordinator, who would be responsible for ensuring that the contract is being used both effectively and efficiently," said the Government Accountability Office, Congress's nonpartisan
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Reuters

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should put a Defense Department official in overall charge of the Army's use of private contractors to support U.S. forces deployed overseas, congressional investigators said in a report on Tuesday.

The use of Houston, Texas-based Halliburton Co. to back U.S. troops in Iraq is the largest effort in the history of the Army's Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, or LOGCAP, as the contract is known. But the report did not mention Halliburton by name.

"We are recommending that the Secretary of Defense designate a LOGCAP coordinator, who would be responsible for ensuring that the contract is being used both effectively and efficiently," said the Government Accountability Office, Congress's nonpartisan investigative arm.

LOGCAP contracts have provided everything from food services to laundry to sanitation and housing for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan among other hot spots.

The estimated value of work under the current LOGCAP contract is more than $15 billion as of January 2005, including $6.8 billion budgeted by the Army in fiscal 2005, which ends Sept. 30, GAO said.

Last week, the Defense Department said its internal auditors had "major" issues with Halliburton after Democratic Party lawmakers released an audit questioning $108 million in fuel delivery costs in Iraq claimed by KBR, a Halliburton subsidiary.

"Given the billions of additional dollars the Army plans to spend on LOGCAP contract activities, the importance of the contract to the success of current military operations ... we believe that high-level oversight and coordination are needed," GAO said.

In written comments on a draft of the GAO study, the Defense Department concurred with the report and its recommendations.

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