The $40 million shell of an unfinished prison in Iraq’s Diyala province; $2 million in laundered cash pocketed by government officials and contractors in Hilla; an $80 invoice on a $1.41 piece of PVC piping from a defense subcontractor near Baghdad.
Those are just three examples of fraudulent and wasteful spending that plagued U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq, according to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, which on Tuesday issued its final report on the U.S. government’s $60 billion reconstruction program for that country.
The report identified at least $1.5 billion in wasted or questionable spending during the period from 2004 to 2013. It urged Congress to create a new agency, the Office for Contingency Operations, which would oversee and coordinate such reconstruction in the future, prospectively avoiding some of the worst excesses.
“If it had existed at the outset of the Iraq program, the United States might have avoided wasting billions of taxpayer dollars,” said the report, titled “Learning from Iraq.”