What is expected to be the final report from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) has come out, taking a final look at a scheme that started a decade ago and spent $60 billion. The verdict: failure.
The new report reflects on the program, and the failures both large and small that have left so many major public works projects in ruins, conceding that “fraud and mismanagement” fueled the now-legendary disaster.
US programs sought to do big things, bankrolling projects seemingly at random, with little care toward whether they were needed, wanted, or sustainable. So determined were officials to spend big that even modest proposals, like a principal’s request for $10,000 to upgrade his school, were met with several times that amounts of cash being thrown at scheme through official channels and not even a fraction of the work ever being done.
Officials tried to dismiss the failure, however, insisting that many of the programs fell apart because the Iraqi government refused to give US occupation forces the sort of enduring legal immunity that would’ve kept them there long-term, and forced planners to scrap a lot of plans that weren’t going to be finished in time.