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State Dept. unprepared to oversee contracting in Iraq

Austin B. Smith report for the Federal Times:

At the end of the year, the State Department is set to take on more contracting oversight in Iraq than it has in any country — roughly 14,000 contractors.

And some experts question whether it can handle the task.

The possibility of waste, fraud and abuse occurring is a "huge risk," said Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller and member of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, in an interview. "I would go so far as to say it's a likelihood."

The State Department is "not organized, structured or oriented to doing this sort of thing," he said, adding that some problems could be avoided if the Defense Department, as it draws down the military presence in Iraq, lends personnel to help out.

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