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Accountability of Contracted Operation in War Zones

Updated: May 14, 2021

The proliferation of contracts outsourcing military functions to private companies raises serious oversight concerns vis-à-vis regulation and accountability. As the industry is emerging, regulation of these outsourced function is considered weak. While critics predict an unchecked industry, supporters have defended the lack of an adequate accountability mechanism by touting self-regulation as a potential solution. Following this discussion, we examine whether the frequency of contractor misconduct and legal repercussions within the overall contracting industry differed between those in the burgeoning security-contracting community and those in the traditional contracting community. We utilize a preexisting dataset of American contractors’ misconduct to compare military contacting to non-military contracting and military contractors to non-military contractors. Our results indicate that contracting military functions is associated with higher levels of misconduct and lower levels of legal repercussion, while military contractor companies themselves are not associated with higher levels of misconduct or legal repercussion. These findings support calls for improved oversight of conflict area’s contracting in order to prevent contractors’ misconduct with impunity.

Swed, Ori, and Adam Materne. "No Accounting for Bad Contracting: Private Military and Security Contracts and Ineffective Regulation in Conflict Areas." Studies in Comparative International Development (2021): 1-27.

Researchers: Ori Swed, Adam Materne

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