WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 30, 2007) - Secretary of the Army Pete Geren announced yesterday two efforts to ensure policies and procedures are in place for all joint, expeditionary contracting operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.

First, a Special Commission on Army Contracting has 45 days to examine and report on current operations, with the goal being to ensure future contracting operations are more effective, efficient and transparent.

An Army Task Force has also been stood up to immediately address existing contracting issues and implement fixes as problems are identified.

The commission, led by the Honorable Jacques S. Gansler, former Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, will examine theater acquisition and program management processes; review management controls to prevent fraud, waste and abuse; assess legislative needs; and recommend changes in policies and procedures.

"The commission will take a big-picture look and ensure we are properly organized to support Army and joint force expeditionary operations in an era of persistent conflict," Sec. Geren said. "The commission will look at how we currently are doing things and how we should be doing things, and examine policies and procedures in the world of contracting and logistics - even the way we promote those who are serving in our contracting forces."

The Army Internal Task Force, led by Lt. Gen. N. Ross Thompson, Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, and Kathryn Condon, Executive Deputy to the Commanding General, Army Materiel Command, will examine current operations and immediately implement corrections.

"Based on earlier findings, the Army already has taken several actions and will continue to implement a number of recommendations, including transferring contracting authority for major contracts from Kuwait to Army Materiel Command, reviewing past contract actions, and establishing Requirements and Contract Teams in Kuwait by Sept. 30," Sec. Geren said.

The Army began audits and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command increased investigative activity into allegations of corrupt contracting in Southwest Asia in late 2005. Deployed commanders also requested the Army send additional CID special agents, auditors and contract specialists.

CID established the Iraq Fraud Detachment in 2005 and the Kuwait Fraud Office in 2006. In February 2007, then Secretary of the Army Dr. Francis Harvey tasked the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics to assess contracting activities throughout Central Command and to implement a Contracting Action Plan.

In response, in March 2007 ASA(ALT) deployed a senior contracting Operations Review Team to review all contract operations and in April began implementing a Contracting Action Plan that reorganized the Kuwait Contracting office, installed new leadership, established a joint logistics procurement support board, increased staffing and deployed senior contracting professionals and attorneys to Kuwait, and provided ethics training and organic legal support.

"We've been doing quite a lot in this area for over a year, and now we're doing more," Sec. Geren said.

As of Aug. 28, there were 76 ongoing criminal investigations involving contract fraud committed against the U.S. military in the Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait theater of operations.

The Army went from supporting one Kuwait base camp in 2002 to supporting eight in 2007. Contracts increased from $150 million in 2002 to nearly $1 billion in 2006, and are forecast to reach $1 billion in 2007, according to the secretary. While 20 military and civilian Army employees have been indicted on charges of contract fraud, Sec. Geren said the vast majority of Army contracting professionals fulfill operational requirements everyday for Soldiers serving in harm's way.