WASHINGTON – Six months after passage of her historic wartime contracting reforms, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill chaired a hearing Tuesday to evaluate the progress of federal agencies in implementing the legislation.
McCaskill also used the hearing to question federal officials on a recent report finding that the U.S. government constructed a new 64,000-square-foot military headquarters worth $34 million in Afghanistan, even after commanders in the area insisted that they did not need the building.
The facility has never been occupied, according to McCaskill and may have to be destroyed by the U.S. government during the drawdown of American troops.
“How in the world did this thing get built when the people on the ground were saying ‘stop, stop, don’t do this—we don’t need it and it won’t be used,’” asked McCaskill, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight.
“I don’t have an explanation,” said Richard Ginman, the Director for Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy. “It’s very difficult to sit here and say, as it’s been reported, that we now have a building that we do not know how it will be disposed of.”
“I think you know this without me saying it, but I’m not going to stop on this until I know who it was that authorized this contract,” McCaskill concluded.
Today’s hearing included representatives from the U.S. Defense Department, State Department, and U.S. Agency for International Development.
Today’s hearing also allowed McCaskill—a former Missouri State Auditor—to assess the progress of her wartime contracting provisions that were adopted by Congress and signed into law by the President as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The provisions build upon recommendations issued by the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting—a panel created through legislation by McCaskill and former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia—which identified at least $60 billion in waste of taxpayer dollars.
The federal officials testified that, while they are still “ironing out” challenges, their respective agencies are making headway implementing McCaskill’s reforms—progress that McCaskill highlighted.
“It is much better than it was in 2007 in every single one of your agencies,” McCaskill said. “Everyone is making progress.”