Iraqi Reconstruction Still Needs Investigating

The performance of Special Inspector General Stuart Bowen and his staff has been outstanding.  The SIGIR has uncovered waste, mismanagement, and fraud on a massive scale, involving billions of squandered taxpayer dollars.  This waste and mismanagement shortchanges our soldiers in the field and impedes the overall effort to bring stability to Iraq.  The SIGIR’s reports have provided a comprehensive picture of the status of the reconstruction, vividly demonstrating the consequences that flow from the poor planning and weak oversight of contracts.  Far too often, reconstruction dollars have been squandered through cost overruns, delays in the completion of projects, poor contractor performance, or outright fraud.

The fact is the SIGIR has brought to light many of the abuses that have occurred during the Iraq war.  He and his staff have courageously traveled throughout Iraq to inspect projects, large and small. They found that the Coalition Provisional Authority could not account for nearly $9 billion dollars it distributed to Iraq ministries. They determined that the government had lost track of thousands of 9-millimeter pistols and hundreds of assault rifles and other weapons distributed to Iraqi forces. They determined that Halliburton wasted $75 million on a failed pipeline project, after ignoring an engineering consultant’s advice that the project required further study.  These are just a few of the examples of the SIGIR’s exceptional work.

The SIGIR’s work must continue while American taxpayers are spending billions of dollars to reconstruct Iraq and while lives of American troops are on the line in Iraq.  That’s why Senate approval of this bill should reassure the American taxpayer that we will vigilantly track the spending of their hard–earned tax dollars.  I urge the House to act quickly to ensure that funds for Iraqi reconstruction are well spent.