Analysis / Acquisition

Overseas Contingency Operations Contracts After Iraq

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Contracts relying on crisis funds (including emergency funds) may bypass many safeguards built into normal spending processes. This study examines the literature on how these contracts are fulfilled for both civilian and defense crisis funds, primarily focusing on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), disaster funds, and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds, beginning with contracts awarded in 2012 and using publicly available data.

This paper discusses the challenges and contradictions that make identifying OCO-funded contracts difficult and then presents a methodology for classifying them. The paper then analyzes trends in contracting from the post-Iraq withdrawal period. This analysis focuses on three areas where the literature review showed that crisis contracting diverges from conventional contracting: noncompetitive awards, undefinitized contract actions, and reachback contracts. The dataset created for this study will be made publicly available to allow for analysis of this data by other researchers and to close an important transparency gap.

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This material is based upon work supported by the Naval Postgraduate School Acquisition Research Program under Grant No. N00244-16-1-0008. The views expressed in written materials or publications, and/or made by speakers, moderators, and presenters, do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Naval Postgraduate School nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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Andrew Hunter, "Overseas Contingency Operations Contracts After Iraq," Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 5, 2017, last modified May 5, 2017,