"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Friday, October 15, 2004
U.S. and Iraqi officials doled out hundreds of millions of dollars in oil proceeds and other moneys for Iraqi projects earlier this year, but there was little effort to monitor or justify the expenditures, according to an audit released Thursday.
Files that could explain many of the payments are missing or nonexistent, and contracting rules were ignored, according to auditors working for an agency created by the United Nations.
"We found one case where a payment ($2.6 million) was authorized by the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) senior adviser to the Ministry of Oil," the report said. "We were unable to obtain an underlying contract" or even "evidence of services being rendered."
See, if I could get paid up to $2.6 million for not doing any work, I could truly say I had found my professional niche!
Of course, we shouldn't make too much out of one little $2.6 million mistake, right?
In a program to allow U.S. military commanders to pay for small reconstruction projects, auditors questioned 128 projects totaling $31.6 million. They could find no evidence of bidding for the projects or, alternatively, explanations of why they were awarded without competition....
In the CPA programs, "We found 37 cases where contracting files could not be located," the auditors said. The cost of the contracts: $185 million. In another 52 cases, there was no record of the goods received for $87.9 million in expenditures.
In a military commanders' program to buy back weapons, $1.4 million was spent from a fund that specifically prohibited such expenditures, auditors said.
Okay, but still - this could all be a misundersatnding. I mean, it's not like they were keeping two sets of books or anything, right?
Iraq's Ministry of Finance maintained two sets of accounting records, one manual and one computerized.
"A reconciliation between these two sets of accounting records was not prepared and the difference was significant," the report said....
Other questions were raised about funds provided by the U.S.-run governing authority to Kurdish officials in northern Iraq. In one instance, auditors were given a deposit slip that showed the transfer of $1.4 billion to a Kurdish bank. Auditors said they were denied access to accounting records and were unable to verify how - or if - the money was spent.
Wait - $1.4 billion, with a "b"? Oh, my.
Well, I'll admit - that looks bad. But that sort of thing is just how business is done in the Middle East. It's not like any high-ranking Americans were implicated in any wrongdoing, right?
Auditors questioned why checks were made payable to a U.S. official - a senior adviser to the Iraqi ministry of health - rather than to suppliers.
Yup - I'm in the wrong line of work, all right.
BTW, thanks for the link to my page, but,this one might work better: