Watchdog: Follow the Money

Defense Department overpaid millions of dollars for radio equipment for the Afghan National Army

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Watchdog,The Pentagon,Michal Conger,Afghanistan,Inspectors General,Defense Spending,Waste and Fraud,Follow the Money

Army contracting officials have repeatedly paid excessively for radio equipment for the Afghan National Security Forces, ordering excess inventory, overpaying fees, and paying too much per item, according to the Department of Defense inspector general.

the Army has paid Datron World Communications several hundred million dollars to equip the Afghan forces with communications equipment, according to two recent IG reports.

The Army potentially overpaid Datron by $3.3 million because contracting officers didn't follow federal regulations to make sure the prices they paid were reasonable, according to a report released Friday.

That report reviewed contracts with Datron for 127 items worth $321.5 million.

"Contracting officers did not obtain fair and reasonable prices for communications equipment procured from Datron to support the Afghan National Security Forces," the report said.

More than half the commercial sales items the IG reviewed cost more than they should have because of contracting officers' poor handling of the contracts.

A June report revealed the Army also overpaid $138 million for radio equipment in earlier contracts worth $321.5 million, this time in excess inventory and contracting fees.

Contracting officials ordered $133 million more in radios and communications equipment than ANSF requested, which wasted money the Afghan army could have spent on other needs, according to the IG.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which works with defense agencies on arms and technology contracts, also failed to track and return $5 million in contract administration fees to the ANSF that could have been used on other equipment.

Neither report was made publicly available, but both had public summaries of the findings.

Datron is a major defense contractor that has received more than $526 million from the Defense Department for radio and television alone since 2000, according to USASpending.gov, which tracks federal contracts.

Then-Acting Inspector General Gordon Heddell told the House Subcommittee on Defense Committee on Appropriations in February 2009 that contract oversight is particularly difficult in Iraq and Afghanistan.

DOD spends billions of dollars each year on contracts around the world, and in war and reconstruction zones, contracting officers focus on timeliness above waste and fraud.

"When engaging in contingency contracting, administrators may not consider the increased risk from omission of appropriate controls and oversight of contracting practices, as their priority is to provide goods and services as quickly as possible," he said.

Datron isn't the only major defense contractor DOD has overpaid for parts and equipment.

The Defense Logistics Agency has paid Boeing, the second-largest DOD contractor, $13.7 million too much for 1,469 delivery orders since March 2009, according to a June 2013 IG report that reviewed several sole-source contracts for spare parts.

DLA didn't do a price analysis and negotiate "fair and reasonable prices" on the deliveries, according to the report.

"If prices are not corrected, DLA Aviation will continue to overpay on future sole-source spare parts procured from Boeing," the IG said.

Boeing also overcharged the Army about $13 million more for 18 parts on earlier contracts than they were worth, charging $23 million for parts that should have cost $10 million, according to a May 2011 report.

United Technologies Corporation is another one of the top 10 largest contractors for DOD. In October 2003 the IG warned that DOD would pay about $22.2 million more than it should for spare parts from AAR Defense Systems, a distributor for a United Technologies Corporation subsidiary, between 2004 and 2009 if it didn't correct prices that were too high.

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