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Inspector General Details Failures of Iraq Reconstruction

Titled "Iraq Reconstruction: Lessons in Program and Project Management," the report provides new details in a familiar story of unrealistic administration expectations for Iraq, inadequate planning and ever-changing goals, and lax to nonexistent oversight.

In one example, the report details what happened in the spring of 2003, when the first big appropriation of money for reconstruction was approved.

"Notwithstanding this new spending authority, many program managers in Iraq found that, during the summer of 2003, their budgets were being cut because of CPA's shifting spending strategies. . . . One contractor had to lay off people, close regional offices, and scale down reconstruction efforts," the report says, identifying him in a footnote only as a USAID contractor.

Security was an overriding consideration, but there were no suggestions early on that civilian workers would be unsafe in Iraq, the report says.

"One project experienced 'three evacuations, a hijacking incident, and the ransacking of [two project] offices.' Looting, sabotage, and attacks on people occurred at some of the infrastructure contractor's construction sites," the report said.

As a result, some contractors moved to northern Iraq and left Iraqi employees to run projects.

Initial post-invasion plans were "off the mark," Bowen said. There were assumptions that the Iraq infrastructure was in "reasonably good shape," the Iraqi government would be "able to pick up and sustain itself rapidly," and that the Iraqi oil and gas production would provide revenue to help in the recovery of the country -- all of which proved unfounded, he said.

The shift from the CPA to other organizations created "challenges throughout," he said. "Among them was a shift in leadership, a shift in funding emphasis and the challenges of multi-agency operations in an unstable environment and the enormous mission of carrying out the largest reconstruction program since the Marshall Plan."

Staff writer Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.


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