The Blogiston Post

Politics, money, and war.

Wednesday, October 19

Billions of dollars short, U.S. must scale back Iraq reconstruction
By Seth Borenstein
Knight Ridder Newspapers
The Bush administration cannot fulfill all its grand promises to rebuild Iraq because soaring security costs, mismanagement and poor planning have cost billons of dollars, federal auditors said Tuesday.

Some projects - including those to provide clean water for Iraqis - have been cancelled as a result.

In one case, security costs for a U.S. Agency for International Development program on economic reform increased from $894,000 to $37 million, an auditor told Congress. And hundreds of millions of dollars is being diverted to pay for training for Iraqis and for the maintenance of new facilities - expenses overlooked in the initial U.S. planning for the reconstruction, auditors said.

Add to that the rising prices for materials, cost overruns and delays, and there's far less money to rebuild Iraq as the Bush administration envisioned, said Stuart Bowen Jr., the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. He called the shortfall "the reconstruction gap."


Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., said that when he visited Iraq, he found too many auditors, saying "there seems to be inspectors general just about everywhere." He said there was one auditor for every 1.5 contracting official.

Bowen said the actual ratio was 16 to 1, with 44 auditors and 715 contracting officials. Dent, he said, was repeating "a myth surfaced by the companies that would rather not have oversight."

Now that last little snippet is interesting. Republicans voted as a block against any oversight on Pentagon spending for Iraq and Afghanistan thru the first two supplementals. It wasn't until the third supplemental, and constituents throwing hissy fits over run away spending, that oversight amendments were finally added but not until long after the damage had been done.

Apparently, the Republican block still doesn't like accountability as evidenced by Dent's remarks on too many "auditors". Just to be clear, it's not really individual Republicans who don't like accountability for spending. It's the K Street lobbyists and the clients they represent, who want the brakes put on any attempts at following the money.

For a look into K Street, there was a good article a couple of years ago that's worth a read: Welcome to the Machine
By Nicholas Confessore
Washington Monthly
July/August 2003

Tuesday, October 18

How odd

Agency charged with spending oversight in Iraq left country in '04
By Seth Borenstein
Knight Ridder Newspapers
The chief Pentagon agency in charge of investigating and reporting fraud and waste in Defense Department spending in Iraq quietly pulled out of the war zone a year ago - leaving what experts say are gaps in the oversight of how more than $140 billion is being spent.

The Defense Department's inspector general sent auditors into Iraq when the war started more than two years ago to ensure that taxpayers were getting their money's worth for everything from bullets to meals-ready-to-eat.

The auditors were withdrawn in the fall of 2004 because other agencies were watching spending, too. But experts say those other agencies don't have the expertise, access and broad mandate that the inspector general has - and don't make their reports public.

Where does the Army's Major Procurement Fraud Unit at the CID fall into this?