Progress in Iraq mixed

Hillary Wicai May 1, 2006


KAI RYSSDAL: There is some good news coming out of Iraq. Thousands of schools, hundreds of police stations, and dozens of firehouses have been rebuilt. The president has been saying as much since that mission accomplished speech — three years ago today. But with $20 billion spent on reconstruction, there is some not-so-good news too. That’s what the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction is saying — as Marketplace’s Hillary Wicai reports.

HILLARY WICAI: In one case, Inspector General Stuart Bowen and his teams found only 6 of 150 primary healthcare centers completed in Iraq. The contractor should have finished all of them by last fall. 75% of the money has been spent though only about 4% of the project is done. Bowen blames lack of effective oversight by the Army Corps of Engineers, security problems and insufficient money management.

STUART BOWEN: If there’s a single issue that stands out it’s the lack of good cost-to-complete data, which is an issue that SIGIR has highlighted in several earlier reports for fear of a program running out of money and that fear’s been realized in this program.

Bowen says it’ll cost $30 million to finish the clinics but it’s unclear the government will spend the money.

STUART BOWEN:“That equipment, some of it we weren’t able to track, some of the funding and the contracting for it was ambiguous and we’ve uncovered some indications of fraud in the course of the audit and they are now being investigated.”

The report says that corruption is another form of insurgency. The Inspector General has 72 open investigations into alleged fraud and corruption.

In Washington, I’m Hillary Wicai for Marketplace.

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