• US has Wasted $30 Billion on Iraq, Afghanistan Contracts

    August 30, 2011

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Democracy, Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    Remember when America was rich? We could spend money on space ships, fancy cars and wars, lots of wars. It turns out that much of that money was wasted, leaving us poor and bent over while Chinese people dance happily around us.

    But don’t listen to me.

    Listen to the The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, which will submit another sad report to Congress tomorrow.

    That report is expected to say the federal government wasted more than $30 billion on contracts and grants in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that without “major changes in law and policy” we’ll enjoy such a large degree of waste in future conflicts already now in planning. The waste works out to one in every six dollars spent.

    Peter wrote a whole book about this, which you can pre-order now, or pick up later in September at your fave bookstore. While the Commission on Wartime Contracting cites two juicy examples of waste– a $40 million prison in Iraq the country did not want and which was not completed, and a $300 million Kabul power plant that requires sustained funding and expertise that Kabul does not have the resources to provide– Peter devotes a whole chapter to his favorite wasted projects. These are smaller amounts of money that nonetheless illustrate the larger problem.

    Stand outs include $10,000 worth of “Pastry Classes for Disadvantaged Women,” encouraging them to open bakeries on streets without water or sewers. Another was $25,000 worth of children’s bicycles. On streets filled with trash, pockmarked with shell craters, and ruled by wild dog packs, riding the bikes was impossible. Some of the bicycle wheels were later repurposed for use on wheelchairs.

    About $22,000 of your tax money was spent to paint a mural on the side of a gym— think oiled musclemen. The purpose was to “provide an aesthetically pleasing sight upon entry, helping to bring a sense of normalcy for the citizens in the area and for those passing through.”

    The best one was $12,000 worth of computers for internet use in a school that had no electricity. The school also had no teachers or students, but the PCs were supposed to encourage them.

    In the book you can also read about millions more spent, on a Baghdad Yellow Pages, repairing the local zoo, driving lessons, empty factories and rug making collectives that employed child labor. Never mind plans for the Baghdad Subway.

    The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan has been featured on this blog before.

    We wrote about how the Commission found that US contract money was handed over to insurgent groups, allowing us to fund both sides of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The Commission also popped up when it reported an audit that found that State didn’t properly handle $172.4 million from funds for the training of the Afghan National Police (ANP). Additionally, the report found that some of those funds went to paying contractors for hours they didn’t work. Some of the money was improperly spent in other areas.

    Lastly, we reported on how State is objecting to continued oversight by the Commission. State is tired of being called out on its waste and would prefer that the Commission just go away and leave them to waste in peace.

    But maybe none of this matters. The war in Afghanistan now costs two billion dollars a week.

    Read more at www.wartimecontracting.gov

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