Friday, May 23, 2008

George Bush's Bold Action, Appoint Insiders Yet Again!

BBC News reported that of $8 billion in defense spending in Iraq from 2001 to 2006, almost every payment failed to comply with U.S. laws preventing fraud. The articles stated:

The review by the defence department's inspector general estimates that the US Army made more than 180,000 commercial payments from bases in Iraq, Egypt and Kuwait from 2001 to 2006.

The $8bn spending of US taxpayers' money involved purchases of goods and services ranging from bottled water, mattresses and food to trucks and phones.

In some cases, contracts worth millions of dollars were paid for in cash with little or no documentation to show what was delivered.

The White House acted boldly this past week by appointing two members to the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, one of which served as Chief Financial Officer for the Defense Department during the period in question. Dov Zakheim's bio states this about his service:

From 2001 to April 2004 he served as the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and Chief Financial Officer for the Department of Defense, acting as the Secretary of Defense’s principal advisor on financial and budgetary matters, developing and managing the world’s largest budgets, overseeing all aspects of the Department’s accounting and auditing systems, and negotiating five major defense agreements with US allies and partners.

Accounts payable and documentation of delivery sits squarely in the accounting function. For over half the period of widespread noncompliance, Dov served as the Pentagon's CFO. So this is the guy who will restore voter confidence in the Bush administration's purchasing practices? Not if the public is paying attention to Dov's current job as Vice President of Booz, Allen & Hamilton, where he specializes in getting clients defense contracts as head of global defense consulting.

Grant S. Green,Bush's other appointment to the Commission on Wartime Contracting, comes from the State Department, which groomed L. Paul Bremer for his Coalition Provisional Authority role. Mr. Green joined the Bush administration early on as Under Secretary of State for Management. He left in early 2005, after nearly five years of service. He rejoined GMD Solutions, a consulting firm specializing in government contracts. Their press release highlighted his work for the State Department:

As Under Secretary Grant S. Green was the principal adviser to the Secretary Powell on all management issues effecting Department operations. Reporting to him were the Bureaus of Administration, Consular Affairs, Diplomatic Security, Human Resources, Information Resource Management, Overseas Buildings Operations, the Director of Diplomatic Reception Rooms, the Director of Medical Services, the Foreign Service Institute, the Office of Management Policy and Rightsizing, and the Office of White House Liaison. In addition, he was the State Department’s representative on the President’s Management Council, and was the Department official responsible for implementing the President’s Management Agenda (PMA).

How much of that $8.2 billion in noncompliant spending came via the State Department vs. the Defense Department? Either way, Grant Green and Dov Zakheim were both in charge of major operations during the lapses. This is the crew George W. Bush wants to clean up? It harkens back to Fran Townsend doing the White House Lessons Learned report. The promised robust analysis became simply a bust. I expect similar things from the President's latest appointments. Should they need to add Iran to the Commission on Wartime Contracting, Dov will be ready.