Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Wartime Contracting Commission: State Department Response "Unacceptable"

(ht Huffington Post) During questioning by Cong. Michael Thibault of Ambassador John Herbst, coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization, representing the US State Department:
I'd like to offer it to poor staff work. In other words, staff should be monitoring—you know, so many communications come across, but I don't know because, as of late last week,—we didn't have a response, and no response was acknowledged.

So Ambassador Herbst, I tried to give you a heads up on this—in fairness—but what's going on, and where's the response, and why hasn't someone worked with your secretary to—you know, you report directly to the secretary—your office does. So you must sit in staff meetings where they talk about the most important things, and contracting and coordination, and a contingent environment is pretty powerful today.

Where's this response?

Certainly, coordination is a very important issue, but I'm afraid I could just tell you that this is being looked at and given serious consideration, and a response will be forthcoming.

OK. Well, my time is almost up, but I'll just have to make this statement. I am the Democrat in this bipartisan group, but in this particular case, I am compelled to say that's unacceptable. And I would ask you to go back and say—because I think the Secretary of Defense has been much more diplomatic than I have here by saying it's unacceptable, but I think I have to call it like it is.
Earlier, Cong. Thibault had noted conclusions of an earlier hearing:
Our witnesses agreed that there are serious gaps and defects in interagency coordination of reconstruction and stabilization projects and that these shortcomings can put huge sums of money at risk of waste and undermine our efforts to improve the lives of people in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These concerns apply not only to U.S. government agencies, but to operations conducted by our coalition partners, non-government entities and international organizations like the World Bank and the United Nations.