The Quarterly Report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), Stuart Bowen, released today draws attention to the need for the United States to implement better cost sharing on reconstruction projects with the Iraqi government. Senate Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Susan Collins co-authored a provision that was included in the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requiring the Iraqi government to cover the costs of major reconstruction projects.
“It is simply unacceptable that, after Congress passed legislation requiring the Iraqis to bear more of the cost of securing, stabilizing and rebuilding their country, the Department of Defense, Department of State, and other federal agencies are not effectively carrying out the law,” Senator Collins said. “The bipartisan provision I co-authored with Senators Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh made clear that no more American funds should be spent for major reconstruction projects. The departments must implement cost sharing procedures to help ensure the Iraqi government is covering its share of reconstruction costs.”
Specifically, the provision in the 2009 NDAA prohibits American tax dollars from being spent on major reconstruction projects in Iraq. It also requires that that Iraqis assume the responsibility of paying for the salaries, training and equipping of Iraqi security forces and of the Sons of Iraq; and it initiates negotiations between our government and Iraq on a plan to cover other expenses such as fuel used by American forces in Iraq.
SIGIR’s investigations have led to a total of 20 arrests, 24 indictments, and 18 convictions, with 80 cases still pending. One of the investigations this quarter led to the conviction of three Coalition military officers and enlisted personnel and the recovery of more than $1.1 million in funds. Also this quarter, SIGIR conducted seven new audits and six inspection reports. SIGIR has now issued a total of 289 reports. Among the projects assessed this quarter were three schools, two healthcare centers, and a courthouse.
“The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has proven to be a much-needed watchdog, auditing reconstruction contracts in Iraq and uncovering millions of dollars worth of fraud, waste, and abuse in Iraq. This latest quarterly report demonstrates why it is critical that the SIGIR have auditors and inspectors on the ground and why I so strongly supported the creation and continuation of this important office,” said Senator Collins.