Bechtel meets goals on fewer than half of its Iraq rebuilding projects
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of International Herald Tribune
Posted: August 3rd, 2007
One of the largest American contractors working in Iraq, Bechtel National, met its original objectives on fewer than half of the projects it received as part of a $1.8 billion reconstruction contract, while most of the rest were canceled, reduced in scope or never completed as designed. But the report, by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent agency, places a large share of the blame for the failures on the government overseers at the United States Agency for International Development who administered the contract. [USAID] assigned just two people in Iraq to oversee the giant contract, which included some 24 major projects and 150 subcontractors and stipulated that all invoices be approved or denied in just 10 days. The report is the first of a planned series of audits of Western contractors that have received large slices of the roughly $40 billion in American taxpayer money that has been spent on the troubled program to rebuild Iraq. Stuart Bowen Jr., who heads the special inspector general's office, said the United States government clearly shared responsibility with the company for the project failures. "I would say there's fault on both sides," Bowen said in an interview Wednesday. He added that neither the aid agency nor the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which also oversaw aspects of the contract, ever came close to filling all their staff positions in Iraq. "This isn't so much an indictment of Bechtel as it is a criticism of the system," said Stephen Ellis, a vice president at Taxpayers for Common Sense in Washington.