The federal government doled out $3.1 billion in contracts to vendors in the "War on Drugs" from 2005-2009 in Latin America alone, but has no clue whether this outsourcing was effective in helping to achieve its counternarcotics goals, a Senate panel has determined.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, yesterday (June 8) released the report, "New Information About Counternarcotics Contracts in South America."
The following is a verbatim transcript of the report's Executive Summary:
At the request of Senator Claire McCaskill, this analysis examines State Department and Defense Department spending on contracts to supply counternarcotics assistance to governments in Latin America. The analysis reviews counternarcotics contract spending over a five year period focusing primarily on eight countries: Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Haiti, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic.
The analysis finds that from 2005 to 2009, the federal government’s annual spending on counternarcotics contracts in Latin America rose by 32%, from $482 million in 2005 to $635.8 million in 2009. In total, the government spent more than $3.1 billion on counternarcotics contracts during this period.
Key findings in the analysis include:
From 2005 to 2009, the majority of counternarcotics contracts in Latin America went to only five contractors: DynCorp, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, ITT, and ARINC, who collectively received contracts worth over $1.8 billion.
The State Department and the Defense Department spent nearly $2 billion on counternarcotics contracts in Colombia alone from 2005 to 2009.
More than half (52%) of counternarcotics contract dollars during this time period were spent to acquire goods and services related to aircraft, which are used for drug location and eradication. In total, the federal government spent approximately $1.6 billion on aircraft-related services, maintenance, logistics, support, equipment, and training from 2005 to 2009.
Neither the State Department nor the Defense Department has adequate systems in place to track counternarcotics contract data. Testifying before the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight in 2010, Defense Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counternarcotics and Global Threats William Wechsler called the Defense Department’s processes for managing counternarcotics contracts “inconsistent,” “time-consuming and error prone.” The State Department simply does not have a centralized system to collect or track this type of information.
While spending on counternarcotics contracts increased by 32% over the five year period under review, contract management and oversight has been insufficient, and has not kept pace with the government’s increased reliance on contractors.
The federal government does not have any uniform systems in place to track or evaluate whether counternarcotics contracts are achieving their goals.
The complete report also is available for download (.pdf, 501.65 kb).
Many thanks to David Isenberg, author of Shadow Force: Private Security Contractors in Iraq (Praeger Security International), for alerting the Monitor to this report via his blog The PMSC Observer (free; registration required).