Thursday, April 06, 2006
From The Seatlle Times - click here to read more...
The goal of rebuilding parts of Iraq becomes more dubious with news that $200 million aimed at building 142 primary-health centers largely has been eaten up by cost overruns and gargantuan security costs.
The $200 million now is expected to produce only 20 finished clinics, a shocking 86 percent shortfall that undermines confidence in the government's ability to achieve its goals. The U.S. has a duty to repair some of what it destroyed in the Iraq war, and to make a good-faith effort to restore parts of the war-torn country. But the rampant spending grows more worrisome every day.
Audits of other projects have found glaring examples of overbilling and war profiteering. In the contract with construction giant Parsons for the health clinics, the culprit seems to be security costs.
The reconstruction is the largest American effort of its kind since World War II. Leading auditors warn shortfalls may soon appear in other reconstruction projects.
By the end of 2006, $18 billion dedicated to Iraqi reconstruction supposedly runs out and remaining projects aimed at improving electricity, water, sewer, health care and the justice system are scheduled to be completed.
But all these projects, like the health clinics, were planned before violence became so prevalent. Incessant violence drives up security costs at construction sites and idles workers at sites deemed too dangerous to work. Additionally, the money is sometimes diverted from construction projects to beefing up Iraqi security forces.