Pentagon: Federal Spending Rules Ignored in Iraq
May 23, 2008
What does still surprise me is there are still people who think we shouldn't spend money on universal health care, education, or food for poor families, but don't seem to care about this:
A Pentagon audit of $8.2 billion in American taxpayer money spent by the United States Army on contractors in Iraq has found that almost none of the payments followed federal and that in some cases, contracts worth millions of dollars were paid for despite little or no record of what, if anything, was received.
The audit also found a sometimes stunning lack of accountability in the way the United States military spent some $1.8 billion in seized or frozen Iraqi assets, which in the early phases of the conflict were often doled out in stacks or pallets of cash. The audit was released Thursday in tandem with a Congressional hearing on the payments.
In one case, according to documents displayed by Pentagon auditors at the hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a cash payment of $320.8 million in Iraqi money was authorized on the basis of a single signature and the words Ã¢â‚¬Å“Iraqi Salary PaymentÃ¢â‚¬Â on an invoice. In another, $11.1 million of taxpayer money was paid to IAP, an American contractor, on the basis of a voucher with no indication of what was delivered.
Mary L. Ugone, the PentagonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s deputy inspector general for auditing, told members of the committee that the absence of anything beyond a voucher meant that Ã¢â‚¬Å“we were giving or providing a payment without any basis for the payment.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know what we got,Ã¢â‚¬Â Ms. Ugone said in response to questions by the committee chairman, Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California.
The new report is especially significant because while other federal auditors have severely criticized the way the United States has handled payments to contractors in Iraq, this is the first time that the Pentagon itself has acknowledged the mismanagement on anything resembling this scale.