• State Department Cannot Account for Six Billion of Your Tax Dollars

    April 11, 2014

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State, Iraq

    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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    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

  • Recent Comments

    • Bruce said...

      1

      If Ukraine your red-neck Just RIGHT, you can find it in that hafascist Nuland (aka, lebensraum)!

      04/11/14 2:52 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      2

      I don’t know what drug you are on Bruce, but your comment is fucking weird.

      04/11/14 3:42 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      3

      quote”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.”unquote

      No Peter, it’s not “comically inept mismanagement”.

      It’s SOP for US Alphabet Departments now. Criminally corrupt to the core. What bothers me though…is..as long as the USG can hold a gun to the taxpayers head by virtue of the 16 Amendment, the corruption will continue until the Dumbest Country on the Planet decides enough is enough.

      Meanwhile, the DOD leads the pack in UN-accountability for TRILLIONS of dollars. whudda thunk. BTW..the MIC thanks the DCOTP(tm) for it’s continuing support.

      04/11/14 3:58 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      4

      I can’t account for all of those six billion dollars, nor perhaps for any money ever spent illegally by the State Department…

      …but I do remember one incident, when I was in Russia some years ago: Once, when I took a train through Siberia, a Russian woman who had (and evidently still has) various close and cooperative relations with the US State Department asked me to do a favour for her. She handed me a brown envelope, thick with what she said was money, around an inch thick although I didn’t open it to see what kind of currency was in it, because at that time I trusted her. (Fool that I was.)

      I got on the train in Yekaterinburg, to go to Tomsk, 900 miles farther East in Siberia. When she gave me the envelope of cash, she told me to give it to a friend of hers who would knock on my train cabin’s door late at night around midway through my journey through Siberia. She never told me why, and back then I was foolish enough to trust her.

      So then, midway through my journey through Siberia, at around 2 or 3 AM (late at night anyway), a woman knocked on my train cabin’s door and told me she was the one the envelope was for.
      I gave it to her and that was that. On a train the middle of Siberia, far away from any surveillance or witnesses.

      That’s all I know. Except to add and to emphasise, that today the same Russian woman who gave me that envelope of cash to give to some anonymous woman late at night in the middle of Siberia, now lives in America and has been a cooperative friend of various US State Department officers for the past 25 years.

      04/11/14 5:03 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      5

      The militarization of State includes the Defense Dept’s lack of audit controls:

      http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/02/08/militarizing-the-state-department/

      04/11/14 5:12 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      6

      3. Secretary Clinton had problems heralding accurate whistleblowers. A 24-year-Foreign Service Officer, Peter Van Buren spent a year in Iraq running two State Department Reconstruction Teams. He exposed State Department waste and mismanagement along with the Pentagon’s “reconstruction” efforts using corporate contractors. Unlistened to, Van Buren, true to his civil service oath of office, went public. Clinton fired him. (WeMeantWell.com.)

      04/11/14 5:14 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      7

      She’s not worth throwing a shoe.

      04/11/14 5:15 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      8

      It’s not just the “militarisation” of State, it’s the conversion of the Department of State into a pack of creepy spies, and even worse they’re incompetent spies…

      …so incompetent that they never foresaw how their special relationship with “Stelfer Steel” would ultimately backfire.

      04/11/14 6:12 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      9

      Speaking of incompetent liars:

      http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/04/11/224085/cias-use-of-harsh-interrogation.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=1

      The only guy in the whole fucking CIA who told the truth is in prison.

      04/11/14 7:25 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      10

      The next time Dickhead Cheney opens his lying mouth, someone should jam this down report his throat:

      https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1109052-senate-intelligence-report-list-of-cia-findings.html#storylink=relast

      04/11/14 7:28 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      11

      Rich Bauer wrote: “The only guy in the whole fucking CIA who told the truth is in prison.”

      Is that why Dale Eppler isn’t in prison?

      04/11/14 8:00 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      12

      And then there’s this guy, NOT in prison!:

      http://adr-ks.org/arbitrators/david-greer/

      04/11/14 8:04 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      13

      NOT in prison!:

      David Greer is the Director of the USAID Systems for Enforcing Agreements and Decisions (SEAD) Program in Kosovo. Mr. Greer is an international law expert with over 14 years of experience, including more than eight years directing international development projects for USAID contractors, the U.S. Department of Commerce and international NGO projects in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

      Mr. Greer has worked on and led technical assistance projects in 13 countries (including a regional program for Southeast Europe) in commercial law, alternative dispute resolution, capital markets and securities regulation, land law and land use, banking, insurance, judicial reform, regulatory and tax administration reform, and in pre- and post-accession legal and institutional adjustment to WTO membership. Mr. Greer has also taught law courses at the American University of Central Asia, George Mason University, and was a teaching assistant at the George Washington University Law School and the Southern Illinois University School of Law.

      Prior to working internationally, Mr. Greer served as a judicial assistant, and worked for nearly three years in Insurance law. Mr. Greer holds an LL.M. (with Highest Honors) in International and Comparative Law from the George Washington University Law School, a JD (cum laude) from the Southern Illinois University School of Law, where he was also Editor in Chief of the SIU School of Law’s Law Journal, and a B.A. from Illinois State University. Mr. Greer is a member of the Colorado Bar, and an arbitrator with the Commercial Arbitration Association under the Chamber of Commerce of the Kyrgyz Republic, where he also served, from 2003-2005 as a member of the Board of Directors.

      04/11/14 8:05 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      14

      NOT in prison! David Greer is NOT in prison!

      04/11/14 8:09 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      15

      melove said:
      quote:”I gave it to her and that was that. On a train the middle of Siberia, far away from any surveillance or witnesses.”unquote

      Siberia. On a train. Middle of the night with an thick envelope of money. Handing it to a stranger.

      melove..if you don’t write a novel you’re crazy.

      Now, about the Greer dude. On that page with his picture, the heading on that site says “American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo”. What the fuck does a private organization have to do with USAID? The more I see, the more I am amazed at the number of tentacles the Octopus has and their reach around the planet. However, I’m also curious why you say..this guy is NOT IN PRISON? You don’t explain WHY he should be?

      04/12/14 1:43 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      16

      Dangerous Precedences.

      This is part of the problem. The regulatory process was weakened during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to ‘facilitate’ contracting there — which then took on a WHOLE new life.

      Unfortunately, these ways of doing ‘bi’nezz’ have spread to other aspects having nothing to do with Iraq and Afghanistan and flimsy justifications, if any. The corruption and problems associated with Afghanistan and Iraq, have spread.

      The CUban Twitter program and Camel ‘art’ are two snippets of that problem. The Camel ‘art’ grant was a sole source grant — why? A one-sentence ‘reason’ was provided that was poorly explained and yet it was approved.

      The Foreign Service officers involved in the Cuban Twitter fiasco involves a practice in which grant money from one program is moved to another without a contract being ‘competed.’

      That happened quite a bit during the last administration; yet the two young foreign service officers who managed the Cuban Twitter fiasco knew the practice or got approval to do that. ONe had spent much of her career in ECA, which has a grant office that has not stopped this practice occurring. Why? Yeah there is precedent at ECA for this kind of stuff.

      It isnt hard to write a grant for programs. But the competition process takes time and no guarentees what contracting organization will get the grant. There needs to be a closer look why the grants office is so compliant and why are people hired for these jobs who are.

      It also needs to be reformed that program staff be allowed to ask questions on grant programs without fear of their job. I can personally attest to serious situations that arose where I was told — by my State supervisor to back off and NOT do my job overseeing certain grant programs. In fact, it was written into my job evaluation as my retaliation process kept rolling that my asking a grantee to stay within budget “embarrassed my office.” My union rep asked my boss to repeat that — he couldnt believe he heard it used as a complaint and ECA HR office allowed it to stand.

      Program staff have been allowed to be moved off programs or worse, just for raising concerns or asking questions on grant programs at ECA Bureau.

      What kind of operating atmosphere does that make for and how does it affect hiring decisions? It helps advance the most obsequious mindset and inhibits proper conduct of the grant process. Who is going to ask questions, especially regarding sensitive programs, if you don’t want to become ‘that guy’?

      The ‘No Fear’ act works in some strange ways

      04/12/14 4:32 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      17

      Dear MLCLT — was that David Greer the American Bar Association rep in Bishkek in the early 2000s??

      04/12/14 4:35 PM | Comment Link

    • Stephen said...

      18

      Dear Pitchfork,
      Correct me if I am wrong. Kosovo’s major exports are heroin and kidnapped slave women. I guess the Chamber is diversifying their market interests.

      04/12/14 5:45 PM | Comment Link

    • Lisa said...

      19

      to Bruce:

      All I’m gonna say is, if Pitchfork says “your comment is fucking weird,” be assured you’re well out in the cosmos ;)

      Along with meloveconsul’s Siberian story, this proves to be a complex thread.

      I can only add some explication to PVB’s first graphic:

      The Money Pit

      04/13/14 2:43 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      20

      PVB,

      Suggest you send Rice-erroni a copy of your new book. Miss-dike Dip-shit is really out of touch:

      AP: Condoleezza Rice says that American leaders need to resist the temptation to become weary of war.

      “I fully understand the sense of weariness,” she told a GOP fundraiser Wednesday, according to reports. “I fully understand that we must think: ‘Us, again?’ I know that we’ve been through two wars. I know that we’ve been vigilant against terrorism. I know that it’s hard. But leaders can’t afford to get tired. Leaders can’t afford to be weary.”

      It’s easy for “leaders”;they weren’t the ones who got fucked by the lies.

      BTW -”Tom Joad” is Number 1 in my book with a bullet. — Good read. Jean Shepherd would have been a good choice for TJ voice-over.

      Ralphie: “Oh my God, I shot my eye out!”

      04/13/14 11:14 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      21

      Lisa said:

      quote”to Bruce…All I’m gonna say is, if Pitchfork says “your comment is fucking weird,” be assured you’re well out in the cosmos”unquote

      I see subtlety is your strong suit Lisa. :) I’ve never claimed to be interested in civility, especially when it comes to the USG. However, if “well out in the cosmos” is a measure of “weirdness” I submit the USG is in a parallel universe. Frankly, I don’t need to defend my opinions. In reality, we’re dealing with the poster child of the “weird” here. And all I have is words to express my contempt. If some of my comments don’t align within some peoples comfort zone of comment decorum..so be it. I could give a flying fuck. The fact is..this is a war. And the only weapon I have is my opinion. I only wished I possessed the WMD of words.

      On the other hand, some people have decided that words are useless now. So they drew a line in the sand….
      http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2014/04/link-with-more-bundy-photos.html

      Here is what they replaced words with…

      http://sipseystreetirregulars.blogspot.com/2014/04/link-with-more-bundy-photos.html

      The USG payed attention…this time. The BLM backed down..big time.

      http://www.sentinelsource.com/news/national_world/officials-release-cattle-after-tense-nevada-showdown/article_14e4b5d7-7672-5505-bf81-92277608f1bd.html

      Unfortunately, this war isn’t over by a long shot.

      04/13/14 1:48 PM | Comment Link

    • Lisa said...

      22

      Subtle as a jackhammer, Pitchfork.

      04/13/14 5:13 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      23

      Pitch perfect.

      04/13/14 5:37 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      24

      “Condoleezza Rice says that American leaders need to resist the temptation to become weary of war.”

      A 13th century poet named Bertrand de Born – in fairness, immensely more eloquent than Condoleezza Rice – wrote a poem ending with an exhortation to all leaders, “Never give up war!” In Dante’s Divine Comedy, Dante placed Bertrand in Hell, carrying his own head before him as a lantern.

      04/14/14 1:16 PM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...

      25

      PVB,
      In my early essays i used to break down money figures into an understandable concept.How many of us can conceptualize what a billion $ looks like?
      Here goes.
      A million weighs 23.2 lbs shrink wrapped in 100 dollar bills.
      A billion is a 1000 million, or 23000 lbs +or -.
      6 billion is 138,000 lbs.
      Now think of a 12 ton dump truck.
      You get the idea,but you surely must realize that it’s easy to misplace 138,000 pounds of 100$ bills.
      Hell i’ve done it a few times(in my dreams)
      How do we endure as a nation with such criminal negligence?
      jim hruska

      04/19/14 6:22 PM | Comment Link

    • T Dot Votes said...

      26

      Imagine what the talent at the Department of State could do to a one-car junkyard!

      04/20/14 7:33 PM | Comment Link

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