In his final report, released this month, on how $63 billion of American taxpayers’ money was spent in reconstructing Iraq after the end of the Iraq war, Special Inspector General Stuart Bowen asked two questions: “What happened to the money?” and “What effect did it have?” The next 185 pages of his report reviews where it went, how much was wasted, and what effect it had in restoring Iraq’s infrastructure so that life there could return to some sort of normal.
The answer to the first question, “what happened to the money?” is that much of it was wasted. He cites a $40 million project to build a 3,600-bed prison in eastern Iraq that was abandoned three years after it started. Today, says Bowen, it “sits in rubble,” and Iraqi officials have no plans to finish it.
Subcontractors with construction firm Anham overcharged the U.S. government thousands of dollars for supplies, including $900 for a control switch valued at $7.05 and $80 for a piece of pipe that costs $1.41.
A $108 million wastewater treatment plant in Fallujah will take eight years longer than originally estimated to complete, and when it is done in 2014, it will serve just 9,000 homes. It’s going to cost the Iraqi government another $87 million to extend the project to allow it to service the other 25,000 homes it was originally designed to serve.
Another $75 million project, to replace an oil and gas pipeline that was blown up during the invasion with a new one under the Tigris River, failed (as a geological study indicated that it might), and it’s taking another $29 million to repair the original one.
About a third of the $63 billion allocated for “reconstruction” was spent to train and equip Iraqi security forces, with precious little to show for it as attacks by rebel forces continue almost on a daily basis.
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