Monday, April 30, 2007

Well, of course, it's been a failure. Has anything these clowns done not been a failure?

Iraq Reconstruction Risks Failure, U.S. Audit Says

By Nadine Elsibai

April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Seven of eight U.S. reconstruction projects in Iraq once deemed successful are now at risk of failure if the Iraqis who took control continue to inadequately maintain the sites, according to an audit of those sites.

The report, by the Special Inspector General for Iraq, examined a sampling of U.S. reconstruction projects, including a military base, a recruiting center and a maternity hospital. It found water leaks and dumped medical waste clogging the drains and sewer systems at Erbil Maternity and Pediatric Hospital, possibly contaminating patient-care rooms.

``If these projects are typical of the quality and effectiveness of operations and maintenance performance on transitioned projects, the value of the U.S. investment in Iraq reconstruction will be at risk,'' Inspector General Stuart Bowen said in the report.

The audit also said that Iraqi officials continued to report to the inspector general that ``significant amounts'' of Iraqi funds ``have been subject to improper diversion.'' The country's Commission on Public Integrity estimated Iraqis have lost about $5 billion to corruption each year, a figure that Bowen said is ``difficult to confirm.''

Investigations ``substantiate the belief that corruption is a virtual pandemic in Iraq,'' Bowen wrote in a previous audit in July 2006.

`Sustainment Gap'

The new audit provided a snapshot of the components of Iraq's security infrastructure that must operate on their own when the U.S. eventually leaves. It supported Bowen's previous reports of a ``sustainment gap'' in which projects started by the U.S. were not maintained by the Iraqis.

The usefulness of such projects will be ``significantly shortened'' if problems aren't addressed, Bowen said in the new report.

Reconstruction costs at the Tallil Military Base in Nasiriyah totaled $119.5 million, the report said. A shortage of sinks and toilets in barrack bathrooms, workmanship deficiencies and the use of ``inferior materials'' caused ``significant deterioration'' of the site, the report found.

Maintenance at the Al Hilla Recruiting Center was found to be inadequate due to a lack of funding for the completed project from the Iraqi government. The U.S. paid $1.8 million to rebuild the center, designed so up to 200 volunteers could be screened and processed each day to join the Iraqi Armed Forces.

Electrical Wiring

``Bathrooms were not cleaned, electrical wiring had not been pieced together, and the sewage holding tank was never evacuated'' at Al Hilla, Bowen said in the report. Even so, he said, Iraqis have been able to use the facility for its intended purpose.

Parsons Corp.'s renovation of the Iraqi Civil Defense headquarters in Baghdad, part of a $3 million contract, suffers from leaks and poor plumbing, the audit said.

Pasadena, California-based Parsons's quality control program ``failed to identify construction deficiencies, such as poor plumbing installation practices'' that continue to affect Iraqi personnel in the building today, Bowen said. Even with the problems, ``the facility is functional and in daily use by hundreds of employees,'' he wrote.

The report said the Department of the Army had asked Parsons to show why the company shouldn't be proposed for debarment from future contracts.

E-mail and voice-mail messages left today at Parsons seeking comment weren't immediately returned.

Iraqi Special Forces

In barracks built to house 825 Iraqi Special Forces personnel at Baghdad's International Airport, officials neglected to maintain a backup system in case power is lost, the report said.

Inspectors found that batteries were missing for some of the four electrical generators, valued at $50,000 each, and engine oil levels weren't sufficient. None of the generators were functional at the time of the audit.

Bowen wrote that audits published by his office have resulted in a savings or recovery of $49.7 million through April 30, 2007, with another $106.6 million of ``potential improper or duplicate'' payments likely to be saved as well.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nadine Elsibai in Washington at

Original article posted here.

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