War Contracts To Controversial Companies On The Rise

The U.S. government awarded more than $16 billion in federal contracts to the former Halliburton subsidiary KBR between 2004 and 2006, despite controversial charging practices and allegations of overcharging in Iraq, according to a new report released Monday.

According to the Center For Public Integrity, the investigative journalism group, KBR's contracts amounted to more than nine times the total given to the second largest contractor, DynCorp International, the private security firm that has been recently implicated in the shooting of an Iraqi civilian.

Another private contracting firm accused of killing innocent Iraqi civilians, Blackwater USA, was 12th on the list of companies and joint ventures, with $485 million in contracts.

"These problems do not seem to have any reflection on the total or renewal of contracts. The money keeps going up as if these problems did not exist," the center's Executive Director Bill Buzenberg, told the Huffington Post. "With these contracts it is more money, more complexity and less oversight."

In all, U.S. expenditures in Iraq far exceeded those in Afghanistan, by a factor of more than seven. The money, regardless of the region, is massive. U.S. government contracts have grown more than 50 percent annually, from $11 billion in 2004 to almost $17 billion in 2005 and more than $25 billion in 2006.

The report, which follows a previous project in 2003, revealed that, over a three year period, more than $20 billion in war contracts went to foreign companies whose identities were impossible to determine. These contracts, along with the $20 billion awarded to the "unidentified" companies, accounted for about 45 percent of all funds awarded to the top 100 contractors.

"You want to fight a war, but not know where the money is going and not keep track of it?" said Buzenberg. "Someday there will be a real accounting of what has happened and what this government has done."

Editors Note: An earlier version of this article stated that KBR received $16 million in contracts. The total, not surprisingly, should have been $!6 billion. Thanks to multiple readers for pointing that out.