U.S. Representative Henry A. Waxman, D-CA
U.S. Representative Henry A. Waxman, D-CA - 
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SCOTT JAGOW: Government contractors. They're doing a lot of work for us now. With the war in Iraq and Hurricane Katrina rebuilding, contractors are getting more taxpayer money than ever. But are we getting ripped off? Today, Congress kicks off three days of hearings to take a closer look at the contracting business. Eric Niiler reports.

ERIC NIILER: Allegations of waste, fraud and abuse in Iraq's reconstruction are nothing new, but a public grilling from Congress — now that is new.

Democratic congressman Henry Waxman says he wants to know why 70 audits have revealed missing money.

HENRY WAXMAN: Anywhere from $8 to $20 billion was shipped in a hundred dollar bills from U.S. treasury to Iraq. We want to find out what happened to that money.

Overall, government contracts have doubled since 2000, and now surpass $400 billion.

Industry rep Stan Soloway says there's a good reason.

STAN SOLOWAY: The kinds of skills that the government needs to help meet it missions today are more expensive than that which is being paid to federal employees. And that suggests that's the government that's out-of-whack with the marketplace.

Soloway says Congress should reform how the feds manage contractors, rather than bashing private industry.

In Washington, I'm Eric Niiler for Marketplace.