Mar 1, 2011

Contractor Blues (Our Boy Davis Aside)

ISI better hope Davis doesn't choke on a chicken bone.

On t'wards other matters -- decent little interim report [72-page PDF] on the contingency-contracting clusterfuck.

Basic conclusion is that lots of this shit will be on the chopping block.

Some highlights:
Armed private security contractors generally perform one of three roles: static security for facilities and bases, movement security for convoys, and movement security for personnel. Movement security for personnel carries a number of special risks
A serious concern with relying on armed security contractors is a potential gap in legal accountability. Without certain legal accountability, incidents involving contractors may alienate the host nation and undermine attempts at establishing legitimacy. ...

The use of contractors to manage other contractors and the heavy use of armed private security contractors reflect a failure of government to provide for
contingency workforce needs. Congress and federal agencies are obligated to structure the U.S. peacetime workforce to deal with projected mobilization and crisis demands. Personnel shortages in a contingency are not sufficient justification for contracting out high-risk functions after a crisis develops. Securing a standing capability to deploy at the start of a contingency would reduce contract waste, fraud, and abuse such as were conspicuous in early operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Accordingly, the Commission recommends that Congress direct agency heads to:
Recommendation 1
Grow agencies’ organic capacity
Require DoD, State, and USAID to:
▪ Undertake a comprehensive, risk-based, contingency-manpower
assessment to determine the organic resources needed to preserve a
core level of capability, including consideration of the agencies’ ability to
manage any contractors they use.
▪ Submit budget justifications and obtain the hiring authority to
accommodate staffing increases.

The trend toward contracting out security also  reflects the government’s human-resource constraints. With Congressionally mandated  overall force-strength ceilings, and with limits on military force-strength “in theater,” DoD has had to choose between using military personnel or security contractors for force protection. The State Department has limited numbers of diplomatic security agents in its Bureau of Diplomatic Security, while USAID has no organic security capability.

In most cases, private security contractors are used not because they are necessarily more effective or efficient than government security personnel, but because agencies have turned to them by default. If these  agencies attempted to conduct security functions with organic capability, it would require increasing manpower significantly, redirecting military personnel from other missions, or some combination of these options. Another alternative to using private security contractors would be to increase reliance on host-nation government security forces, but this is not currently a realistic option.
Accordingly, the Commission recommends that Congress:
Recommendation 2
Develop a deployable contingency-acquisition cadre
▪ Provide funding and direction for agencies involved in contingency
operations to establish a trained, experienced, and deployable cadre for
acquisition-support functions. The strategic plan for deploying this cadre
should be supported by a back-up capability for making rapid, temporary
hires of acquisition professionals for large-scale or long-term contingency
Recommendation 3
Restrict reliance on contractors for security
▪ Restrict the reliance on private security contractors by requiring agencies
to more broadly provide embedded government personnel responsible for
leadership, command and control, and oversight of all security contractors
and operations. 

This recommendation does not, however, address the Commission’s abiding
concern that agencies’ reliance on contractors relative to government
personnel is excessive, notably in the realm of movement security
contractors. The Commission’s final report will address that concern.
Recommendation 4
Designate officials with responsibility for cost consciousness
Revise management directives, instructions, and other policies as necessary to:
▪ Ensure that senior officials are specifically designated as being accountable
for contract-cost consciousness, and develop metrics to facilitate
assessment of contract outcomes.
▪ Establish criteria allowing promotion boards and selection panels to
evaluate and reward officials for contract cost consciousness.
 Recommendation 5
Measure senior military and civilian officials’ efforts to manage
contractors and control costs
Revise senior officials’ personnel-evaluation reports to:
▪ Affirmatively state the responsibility to avoid excess cost, accurately
establish contingency-contract support requirements, manage contractor
performance, and revalidate requirements at appropriate stages of the
acquisition process.
▪ ▪ Include an acquisition-management category that is separate from any
existing category to measure officials’ demonstrated commitment to
contractor management and oversight, and to acquisition-cost control....

Defense policy for more than two decades has recognized that contractors—along with military reservists, federal civilians, and host-nation support personnel—are part of the “total force” for contingency operations. But the declared total-force policy that includes contractors is at odds with agencies’ failure to plan for their reliance on contractors...

Supplementing the contingency-contracting function with ad hoc solutions has proven to be ineffective. The Iraq and Afghanistan contingencies have brought many problems with contractors into sharp relief. Solutions demand concerted and continuing leadership attention to ensure that money spent in the future will bring better results. Despite contractors’ constituting almost half the total force deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, DoD contingency-contracting matters have been mixed together with the J-4 logistics directorate and managed by a colonel. At State and USAID, the functions have been relegated to the office-director level.

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