Accessibility links

US Oversight Officials Report Iraq Reconstruction Falls Short

U.S. oversight officials say attacks in Iraq against coalition forces in September dropped to their lowest levels since mid-2006. But they also report that efforts by the U.S. and Iraqi to rebuild the country are being hindered by a lack of strategic planning as well as widespread corruption in Iraqi ministries. Leta Hong Fincher has more.

The Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says that since 2003, the United States, Iraq and other donors have devoted more than $100 billion to rebuilding Iraq. But the inspector general indicates the reconstruction efforts are dogged by failures.

Inspectors point to the Mosul Dam, which U.S. officials warn is in danger of collapse. The U.S. project, to fix what the Army Corps of Engineers now calls the "most dangerous dam in the world," has cost $27 million.

Yet Special Inspector Stuart Bowen, Jr. said at a congressional hearing Tuesday the spending has yielded few benefits. "These contracts were meant to fulfill that -- they failed. And they were supposed to provide for the construction of five grout-mixing vehicles and also something called the Intelli-grout system, $16 million for it. It's not being used. My inspectors found that one of the mixers was built; two were partially built and two not built."

Bowen told a panel of the House Appropriations Committee that tens of thousands of people would be killed if the Mosul dam fails.

Bowen cited some improvements in Iraq: Attacks on coalition forces dropped in recent months to their lowest level since June 2006, and Iraq's electrical output reached its highest levels in recent months since the 2003 invasion.

A General Accounting Office report states U.S. efforts to rebuild Iraq "lack strategies with clear purpose" and performance measures.

Joseph Christoff, the General Accounting Office head of international affairs and trade added, "The U.S. government wants to try to help in some fashion. We spent over $300 million to try to build the budgeting and procurement and contracting skills in the Iraqi ministries. But the question always remains: Are we effectively helping to build the capabilities of corrupt ministries?"

Christoff says future reductions in violence depend on developing capable Iraqi security forces. But he says these forces have high rates of absenteeism, divided loyalties and limited logistical capabilities. "Since 2003, the United States has provided $19.2 billion to train and equip 360,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers. But as of September 2007, as reported last month by General [David] Petraeus [Commander of the Multinational forces in Iraq], only about 10 of the 140 army, national police and special operation units are operating independently."

Christoff adds that the Iraqi government has so far met only one of eight legislative benchmarks intended to promote national reconciliation.