Auditors Report That Billions Were Wasted During The War In Iraq
The audit attempted to account for the use of $51 billion in U.S. tax dollars that were used to “rebuild” Iraq. It found that “billions of American taxpayer dollars [were] at risk of waste and misappropriation” and that "the precise amount lost to fraud and waste can never be known.”
In one example of such waste:
“A contractor got away with charging $80 for a pipe fitting that its competitor was selling for $1.41. Why? The company's billing documents were reviewed sloppily by U.S. contracting officers or were not reviewed at all.”
Although the report concludes that the billions of dollars wasted can never be definitively tallied, the audit did cite “double-payments, poor inventory controls, and sloppy billing procedures.”
The audit itself cost more than $200 million despite the fact that it could not give an exact number to the level of wasted money in Iraq, but the report stated a possible reason for its inability to do so:
“Given the vicissitudes of the reconstruction effort — which was dogged from the start by persistent violence, shifting goals, constantly changing contracting practices and undermined by a lack of unity of effort — a complete accounting of all reconstruction expenditures is impossible to achieve.”
The office of the inspector general in charge of the audit, Stuart Bowen, has previously investigated criminal fraud of both civilians and military members.
According to the Washington Post, the office found that
“of the $51 billion that Congress approved for Iraq reconstruction, about $20 billion was for rebuilding Iraqi security forces and about $20 billion was for rebuilding the country's basic infrastructure. The programs were run mainly by the Defense Department, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.”
However, contractors’ invoices were rarely and inadequately reviewed, leading to vulnerability to fraud.
The Associated Press reports that although the audit was called the “final” report, a spokesman from Bowen’s office stated that “several more will be done to provide additional details on what the U.S. got for its reconstruction dollars and what was wasted.”
Read more of Neon Tommy’s coverage of Iraq here.