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Archive for Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Report cites waste in Iraq contracts

August 2, 2006

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— The beleaguered Iraq reconstruction effort was beset by problems from the very start, a new report finds.

For several months before the war, government agencies didn't consult each other on what they were doing because their work was classified.

"It is a story of mistakes made, plans poorly conceived or overwhelmed by ongoing violence," said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. "And of waste, greed and corruption that drained dollars that should have been used to build schools, improve the electrical grid and repair the oil infrastructure."

The report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen Jr., is being presented today before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which Collins chairs.

The 140-page report starts the chronology noting there was limited coordination of contract and purchasing efforts from the summer of 2002 to January 2003. The war started in March 2003. "This lack of coordination in early planning was attributable, in part, to the fact that much of the activity was classified," it said.

The report's recommendations include setting up single contracting procedures in such environments, setting up deployable systems ahead of time and testing them, designating a single agency to coordinate all contract activities in theater.

Bowen also said in a quarterly report released late Monday that a long tradition of corruption among Iraqi officials also hampers progress.

He cited an Iraqi official who estimated that corruption costs the country $4 billion a year, as well as a recent survey indicating a third of Iraqis polled had paid a bribe to get products or services in the past 12 months and that they had a "core mistrust" of the army and police.

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