(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Monday that the country needs to strengthen its oversight of defense spending to prevent federal dollars from going to waste.

His comments came in response to a Washington Post op-ed by the co-chairs of the federal Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, said in a statement Monday that among the “most sobering conclusions” by former representative Chris Shays and Michael Thibault was that more than $30 billion – or one in every six dollars spent by the U.S. on contracts and grants in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade – has been wasted.

“This alarming finding is just one more reason our nation needs stronger oversight of defense spending -- so that taxpayer dollars can be spent efficiently on keeping our country safe and fulfilling our military’s missions,” Hoyer said. “As the bipartisan select committee on deficit reduction begins its work, it is essential that the committee’s members focus on all of the contributors to our deficit, on both the revenue and spending sides. The findings detailed today remind us that all of our nation’s spending, including defense spending, deserve to be closely scrutinized.”

The op-ed by Shays and Thibault comes two days before the commission co-chairs are to release their report to Congress. Shays is a former Republican representative from Connecticut; Thibault is a former deputy director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

“All eight commissioners agree that major changes in law and policy are needed to avoid confusion and waste in the next contingency, whether it involves armed struggle overseas or response to disasters at home,” they wrote in Monday’s op-ed.

Defense spending is just one of the matters over which the 12-member debt “supercommittee” will be wrangling this fall. The issue is likely to prove an especially tricky one for House Republicans, however, several of whom expressed reservations about voting in favor of this month’s debt ceiling deal because it opened the door to defense cuts down the road.

The supercommittee is faced with $1.2 trillion in across-the-board-spending cuts – half to defense spending and half to domestic discretionary – if its members are unable to reach an agreement on at least $1.5 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade.