Sunday, July 30, 2006

Three Card Monte

Those billions of dollars we're pouring into Iraq's reconstruction ("you break it, you own it") don't seem to be accomplishing much in terms of reconstructing Iraq. What is stunning in this breakdown is that the federal government seems to be complicit in the problem. From the NY Times:

The State Department agency in charge of $1.4 billion in reconstruction money in Iraq used an accounting shell game to hide ballooning cost overruns on its projects there and knowingly withheld information on schedule delays from Congress, a federal audit released late Friday has found.

The agency hid construction overruns by listing them as overhead or administrative costs, according to the audit, written by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent office that reports to Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department.

...In another case cited in the report, a power station project in Musayyib, the direct construction cost cited by the development agency was $6.6 million, while the overhead cost was $27.6 million.

One result is that the project’s overhead, a figure that normally runs to a maximum of 30 percent, was a stunning 418 percent.

The figures were even adjusted in the opposite direction when that helped the agency balance its books, the inspector general found. On an electricity project at the Baghdad South power station, direct construction costs were reported by the agency as $164.3 million and indirect or overhead costs as $1.4 million.

That is just 0.8 percent overhead in a country where security costs are often staggering. A contracting officer told the inspector general that the agency adjusted the figures “to stay within the authorization for each project.”

I suppose it should come as no surprise that this administration is borrowing the creative accounting techniques of such business luminaries as Enron, but still...

In the mean time, children's hospitals are not being built, power generating plants are still not up to providing more than a few hours of electricity per day, and Iraq's economic base, oil, is still not back to pre-invasion levels.

Heckuva job, George.


Anonymous sister of ye said...

Actually, George has been doing a heckuva job.

The goal of "Iraqi reconstruction" was never to reconstruct Iraq. Any reconstruction that has taken place has been accidental, a matter of good faith on the part of actual workers whose ideals and/or decency prevent them from seeigng or buying into the true program.

The point of Iraqi reconstruction is to funnel taxpayer money to Bush cronies. The government's "complicity" is actually it simply carrying out Bush policy.

Criticizing the Bush admin for not being able to govern misses the point. The fact is, governing - as in working effectively for the common good - doesn't even enter into their minds. It only factors in as PR, a Big Lie cover-up for what they're actually doing.

10:36 AM  

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