Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, and William Reed, director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency. According to their testimony, the investigators:
• Found overpricing and waste in Iraq contracts amounting to $4.9 billion since the Defense Contract Audit Agency began its work in 2003, although some of that money has since been recovered. Another $5.1 billion in expenses were charged without proper documentation.
• Urged the Pentagon to reconsider its growing reliance on outside contractors to run the nation’s wars and reconstruction efforts. Layers of subcontractors, poor documentation, and lack of strong contract management are rampant and promote waste even after the GAO first warned of such problems 15 years ago.
• Pointed to growing Iraqi sectarian violence as a significant factor behind wasted U.S. dollars. Iraqi officials must begin to take primary responsibility for reconstruction efforts, an uncertain goal given widespread corruption in Iraq and the local government’s inability to fund projects.
The overpricing identified by the DCAA has tripled since last fall. Of the $10 billion in overpriced contracts or undocumented costs, more than $2.7 billion were charged by Halliburton Co., the oil-field services firm once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. Of course that may be just another coincidence. According to the Pentagon auditors, more than one in six dollars they have audited in Iraq are suspect. That is shocking when you consider the total cost of this war so far. President Bush’s budget request of nearly $100 billion to pay for more U.S. troops in Iraq adds even more to the cost of trying to keep order in a country engaged in a bloody civil war. In my opinion, the American taxpayers won’t tolerate this sort of thing much longer.
Source: Associated Press
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