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Army officials said awarding the new contract to multiple companies would incorporate “lessons learned” to increase competition, control costs and “enhance quality.” But Army audit records reviewed by The Times reveal some familiar problems.

Lack of training

Under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Mutual Support Act of 1979, the Pentagon can enter into “acquisition and cross-servicing agreements,” or ACSA’s, with allies to receive and provide logistics support.

But when military commanders appointed coordinators to oversee these potentially expensive agreements in Afghanistan, those duties were heaped on in addition to other primary jobs.

Indeed, coordinators didn’t even know about the cross-sharing program prior to their assignments, and they usually received little, if any, training, auditors found.

Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of dollars were at stake.

“ACSA coordinators weren’t provided sufficient training on the ACSA program and performed the function as an additional duty on a part-time basis,” auditors wrote.

It’s a familiar complaint when it comes to Pentagon contracting.

In June 2010, the Government Accountability Office found military contractor monitors assigned to act as the “eyes and ears” for contract officers usually weren’t training prior to deployment.

Some monitors with no engineering experience were even asked to oversee construction projects, including plan specifications that weren’t in English.

Michael Fischetti, a former Pentagon acquisition official who is now executive director of the National Contract Management Association, said the Army’s billing troubles reflect a broader training problem across government.

Budget cuts and high-profile training conferences that drew criticism for lavish spending have put training at the top of the list for potential trims, he said.

“They’ve gone a lockdown on training,” Mr. Fischetti said. “A lot of the progress they’ve been making has been halted. There should have been more training here.”

Col. Crichton said the augmentation program office now provides a monthly contract data requirement list to U.S. Force-Afghanistan, and ACSA coordinators are trained.

In their report last summer, Army auditors estimated the command should be able to recoup about $384 million from coalition countries for last year and this year “once sound procedures are in place and operating.”