APRIL 28, 2008
One year after congressional investigators said the government wasted $10 billion in fraudulent Iraq reconstruction contracts, a separate but equally alarming audit reveals that the problem persists with no end in sight.
The special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says the rampant abuse of taxpayer dollars continues in Iraq, with millions of dollars in lucrative contracts that don’t get finished yet the U.S. government describes as complete. The deals are infested with excessive delays, poor performances and projects that simply never come to fruition.
Yet U.S. taxpayers have dished out more than $100 billion for Iraq reconstruction, which is nowhere near complete. The tab is sure to swell, especially since government officials have repeatedly failed to address the documented fraud and corruption that has tainted the effort.
In its latest 11-page audit, the inspector general reviewed nearly 50,000 reconstruction projects worth billions of dollars. At least 855 were terminated by U.S. officials before their completion and about 112 were ended because of the contractors’ inadequate performance. Perhaps in an effort to cover up the waste, many of the failed projects were described as complete or successful when they were not. Among them was a $50 million project to build a children’s hospital in Basra.
The inspector general’s office is also investigating whether the contractors whose deals were terminated for poor performance got subsequent government deals, even though they had already cheated taxpayers in previous projects.
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