When I wrote my book about waste, fraud and grotesque mismanagement by the U.S. Department of State in the Iraq War Reconstruction, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, the task was at least sporting.
State bitterly maintained at the time that its work rebuilding Iraq into a Jeffersonian democracy was successful absent the occasional car bomb, and somnolent media played along. Now the job of showing State can’t keep track of its money with both hands isn’t much more than a simple cut ‘n paste job. Let’s watch:
The State Department’s own Office of the Inspector General (OIG) basically writes today’s article for us. In a “management alert” actually posted online, the OIG said:
Specifically, over the past six years, OIG has identified Department of State contracts with a total value of more than $6 billion in which contract files were incomplete or could not be located at all. The failure to maintain contract files adequately creates significant financial risk and demonstrates a lack of internal control over the Department’s contract actions.
Hilarious side note: About those six years of contract shenanigans. The State Department had been without an inspector general position for the past five years, the longest IG vacancy in the government’s history.
Lack of Dollars and Sense from the OIG Alert
– An audit of contracts from the U.S. embassy in Iraq revealed that contracting officials were unable to provide 33 of 115 contract files, representing $2.1 billion. Forty-eight of the 82 contract files that the embassy somehow did have on hand did not contain all required documentation for spending an additional $2.1 billion.
– Files for a Worldwide Personal Protective Services contract Baghdad, with an estimated total cost of $1 billion, were either not accessible or complete.
– A $52 million contract was awarded to the spouse of the employee overseeing the contract (this one?)
– In another case, a State Department contracting officer falsified government technical review information and actually provided the contractor with internal contract pricing information, then tried to hide the $100 million contract from investigators.
– In a separate investigation, a State Department employee allowed the payment of$792,782 to a contractor even though the contract file did not contain documents to support the payment.
– A $2.5 million Bureau of Information Resources Management contract lacked status reports and a tally of the funds expended and remaining on the contract.
Sloppy Contracting… Like a Fox?
State’s horrible disregard for the most basic of accounting is likely just another sad chapter in the saga of comically inept mismanagement that underlies much of what the State Department is anymore.
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