WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Chairwoman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the hearing titled “Evaluating DOD Equipment and Uniform Procurement in Iraq and Afghanistan.” For hearing testimony and to watch the hearing live click here.
"Welcome to our subcommittee members and witnesses testifying before us today. In particular, I would like to welcome Representative Jimmy Panetta as a new Member of the Armed Services Committee and the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee. We are pleased to have you. I look forward to your participation on this subcommittee.
One of the objectives of this subcommittee is to bring attention to programs or activities which face management challenges, are too costly, or could be administered better. Given the pressures on the budget of the Department of Defense, every dollar counts. We cannot afford to make avoidable mistakes.
Vigorous oversight can help ensure that mistakes don’t happen and when they inevitably do, we learn lessons from these missteps.
For this reason, I am happy to convene this hearing today on several recent reports highlighting deficiencies within the Department.
Last month, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction released a report assessing that the Department overpaid as much as $28 million on uniforms for the Afghan National Army. Furthermore, the pattern selected by the Afghan Ministry of Defense may not even be appropriate for Afghanistan’s environment.
I understand it is important to listen to and work collaboratively with our partner nations when we are helping to train and outfit their forces. But, I am eager to know specifically how to avoid similar missteps in the future. I want to know what the Department is doing to ensure that Afghan troops are appropriately outfitted at a price that is right for the U.S. taxpayer.
On Friday, the Secretary of Defense sent a very strongly worded memorandum to his senior-most deputies. In light of the Afghan uniform report, the Secretary directed them to 'bring to light wasteful practices, and take aggressive steps to end waste in our Department.'
This is essential.
Other recent reports by the Government Accountability Office and the Department of Defense Inspector General identified issues with the management of equipment funded by the Iraq Train and Equip Fund, or ITEF. GAO determined that DOD had difficulty tracking and accounting for materiel as it was procured, shipped to the theater, and then provided to Iraq’s security forces. Similarly, the Department of Defense’s Inspector General has conducted two inquiries which determined that the Army had ineffective controls for processing, transferring, and securing ITEF equipment in Iraq.
The Department must improve its monitoring and management of this equipment to be more accurate and transparent. I applaud the Army for already taking steps to do so.
I look forward to hearing what progress the Department has made in continuing to remedy these various deficiencies. Vigorous oversight can ensure that hard-earned taxpayer dollars are being put to good use in securing our nation’s defense.
Our first panel will address the findings and recommendations of the various reports. Our second panel will address how the Department is working to overcome the many challenges inherent to executing train and equip programs.
I am pleased to recognize our witnesses today. I thank them for taking the time to be with us. We have:
• The Honorable John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction;
• Mr. Michael Roark, the Assistant Inspector General for the Contract Management and Payments Directorate at the Department of Defense Inspector General;
• Ms. Jessica Farb, Director on the International Affairs and Trade team at the Government Accountability Office"