Congressional investigators want answers, and quick ones, from the Defense Logistics Agency to explain why the military paid such large amounts in Afghanistan. Since 2005, DLA and a Swiss-based contractor called Supreme Foodservice have been delivering “subsistence” supplies to U.S. military bases in Afghanistan.
Based on the information from audits that were conducted in 2008 and 2011, DLA calculated that it had overpaid Supreme a staggering $756,908,587 and they demanded full reimbursement within 30 days.
The House subcommittee in charge of national security oversight is alleging that the government was double-billed and charged excessively for these supplies. In letters subcommittee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and ranking Democrat Rep. John F. Tierney (Mass.) sent recently to the DLA and Supreme Foodservice, they wrote:
“It is outrageous that DLA could ever be in the position of possibly overpaying any vendor by three-quarters of a billion dollars — especially at a time when troop levels are being scaled back because funding is tight.”
Supreme countered on Thursday that contract disputes are “not uncommon.” They continued by saying that, “In the meantime, we continue to work well with DLA, performing the contract to extremely high standards. We remain focused on provision of support to the war fighters in some very challenging environments.” Some of the subcommittee aids have said that Supreme Foodservice has said that they are owed as much as $1 billion in underpayments by the military.
In a strange move, DLA twice approved extensions to the contract that it had with Supreme, even while they were arguing about pricing and accusing the company of vast over billing. During a subcommittee hearing in December, Pentagon Inspector General Gordon Heddell said that the Pentagon’s contract mismanagement is
“an example of just about as bad as it can get.”
Ironically, Supreme Foodservice has now been short-listed for a new, $10 billion, five year food delivery contract that would begin in January. No one has yet explained how, or if, the current allegations and investigation will impact on their ability to get another contract.