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US May Have Wasted $8 Billion in Effort to Rebuild Iraq

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Almost ten years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an accounting of the $60 billion the U.S. spent to help rebuild the country has determined that at least $8 billion of it may have been wasted, a figure equal to 15 percent of the funds the U.S. dedicated to the effort.

The special inspector general for Iraqi reconstruction (SIGIR) said it has been unable to find record-keeping to justify where the $8 billion may have been spent.

Established by Congress nine years ago to keep tabs on how the $60 billion in Iraq reconstruction money was being spent, SIGIR is wrapping up its work after having conducted 390 audits and 600 inspections.

Throughout those investigations, SIGIR officials often complained about shoddy record-keeping that made it difficult for them to track the funding and oversight of the reconstruction projects in Iraq.

According to the audit, “We found that incomplete and unstandarized databases left us unable to identify the specific use of billions of dollars spent on projects, because the U.S. government agencies involved were not required to manage project data in a uniform and comprehensive manner.”

SIGIR also released a 186-page final report entitled Learning from Iraq that contained interviews with senior American and Iraqi leaders who lamented the missed opportunities the aid money presented.   Their comments reaffirmed what SIGIR officials had determined over the years – that the U.S. undertook large projects in Iraq without much input from Iraqis or long-range planning for how they would be maintained after the U.S. military left Iraq, including $40 million spent on a prison in the Diyala province that was never finished, and that Iraqis have no plans to use.

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