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Old 07-30-2007   #1
tequila
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Default Iraq fails to take over U.S. projects

Iraq fails to take over U.S. projects - LATIMES, 30 July.

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Iraq's central government has refused to take possession of more than 2,300 completed reconstruction projects financed with billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars, according to the latest quarterly report by the U.S. agency that oversees the rebuilding effort.

As a result, many projects are being turned over to local entities that cannot adequately support them or are being run with continued U.S. funding, according to the report by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.

The report, to be released today, says the U.S. government has overseen completion of 2,797 projects at a cost of $5.8 billion. The central government has taken over 435 of them, worth $501 million.

No project has been turned over to the central government since July 2006, two months after Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's government was installed and the Finance Ministry "changed the conditions on the asset transfer process," the report says.

But even the Iraqi government's acceptance of projects does not mean they will be adequately funded or maintained, the report says, citing problems with the Dora power station, which services Baghdad.

The rebuilt units were transferred to the Electricity Ministry in the spring of 2006. But in August, workers removed parts from one unit, taking it off-line, to keep the other functioning after it failed because of poor maintenance. That second unit failed again, says the report, which notes that "the ministry has operated ineffectively or has insufficiently maintained equipment" at the power station ...
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Old 07-30-2007   #2
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What's the story with this IG Bowen? If you only see things in black and white, then you miss the full spectrum....

Last edited by Beelzebubalicious; 07-30-2007 at 07:58 PM. Reason: changed my mind
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Old 07-30-2007   #3
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I dont' think there is a "story" concerning the SIGIR...he or rather his agency...doesn't have a dog in the HCA and reconstruction fight as to whether or not projects succeed or fail--unlike DOS, USAID, DOD, etc.

SIGIR reports the good (white) with the bad (black) and is doing what congress has mandated that they do. If you're remotely interested, go to www.sigir.mil you can read the report, dated 30 July 07.

It is what it is...
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Old 07-31-2007   #4
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I understand what you're saying, but there is a story as to how you evaluate what's going on in Iraq. It relates to the context and the reality. It comes down to what constitutes success. I haven't read the report, but am curious to know what SIGIR uses as measures and how they evaluate the good vs. the bad.

Then, you have the media, like LA Times, pick up on only certain negative aspects reported. Well, that's another story.

I'll read the report...
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Old 07-31-2007   #5
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That is the thing to do; think in terms of the projects planned, coordinated and executed AND in terms of what was the overall intent...

Think about Measures of Effectiveness (MOE)...did it achieve a particular effect...like less Muj trying to kill us...lower infant fatality rates, higher employment rates, etc. and contrast with mere Measures of Performance (MOP)..."we said we were gonna build 25 new public health clinics in Anbar, turn em over to the indig, and by God we did just that"!
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Last edited by Mike Spight; 07-31-2007 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 08-28-2007   #6
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Troops Confront Waste in Iraq Reconstruction - Washington Post, 25 Aug.

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Maj. Craig Whiteside's anger grew as he walked through the sprawling school where U.S. military commanders had invested money and hope. Portions of the workshop's ceiling were cracked or curved. The cafeteria floor had a gaping hole and concrete chunks. The auditorium was unfinished, with cracked floors and poorly painted walls peppered with holes.

Whiteside blamed the school director for not monitoring the renovation. The director retorted that the military should have had better oversight. The contract shows the Iraqi contractor was paid $679,000.

The story of the Vo-Tech Iskandariyah Industrial School illustrates the challenges of rebuilding Iraq. It also raises questions about how the military is managing hundreds of millions of dollars to fund such reconstruction, part of the effort to stabilize the country.

Senior officers and commanders insist cases like the Vo-Tech are isolated and are quickly addressed. But in this turbulent patch of Iraq south of Baghdad, ground commanders and civil affairs officers say the system is marked by inefficiency and waste and is vulnerable to corruption. Many Iraqi contractors are slow and unreliable. Some are dishonest. Meanwhile, inexperienced soldiers do their best to scrutinize millions of dollars in contracts and monitor projects they don't fully comprehend ...
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Old 09-05-2007   #7
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U.S. Efforts May Work Against Iraqi Self-Sufficiency - Washington Post, 5 Sep.

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After the feast, the tribal leaders of Jiff Jaffa laid out their problem. They had five water pumps issued by the Iraqi government, but none were working. Municipal officials either said they were afraid to visit this dangerous region or demanded that the leaders pay large sums to use certain contractors. Now, the sheiks were asking for help from the United States.

It was a familiar request for the group of U.S. soldiers and aid officials seated in a large trailer on a farm in this rural stretch of southern Iraq.
"So the real reason they are not helping you is they want a bribe?" asked Lewis Tatem, the tall, deep-voiced deputy leader of the Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team in charge of this area.

"Yes, a bribe," replied Hamid Mazza al-Masodi.

The United States turned over sovereignty to an Iraqi government in June 2004 after a 14-month occupation. But for many Iraqis, the United States remains the only source of basic services, protection and infrastructure -- functions the new government was supposed to perform. The result is a dilemma for U.S. officials and particularly the reconstruction teams that are the cornerstone of the rebuilding effort. When Americans step in to provide services that the government does not, they foster dependence and undermine the institutions they want to strengthen.

"It's always a dilemma. Should we do it? Or should we let the government do it? We are the government for them," said Tatem, of Reston, Va. "But what happens after we leave? Does it all fall apart for them? And will this allow the insurgents to gain control by giving them what they need?" ...
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Old 09-05-2007   #8
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Makes me think of the US involvement in the Palestinian Territory regarding the conduct of fair and open elections. Everyone agreed they were fair, open and democratic, but the result was that they elected Hamas.

You can focus on and support the process, but you can't control the outcome.
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Old 10-23-2007   #9
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Too much corruption within the Iraqi government. Maliki is a decent guy and everyone i talk to from Iraq says he works very hard for the country except that people around him delay his work.
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Old 10-24-2007   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tequila View Post
I am with the Iraqi principal on this one. The simple fact is that if Engineer project manager fails to do his job and leaves the 'user' to supervise the task that a trained engineer project manager should be doing, then failure on project delivery should be no surprise. (Unless you are truly as thick as a brick).

I cannot imagine the USACE handing over supervison of any domestic captial project to a school principal, I am mystified that anyone would do it on ops.
I am also amazed at the obvious lack of diligence in the commitment and supervision of Govt funds. For an organisation that stencils 'for official use only' on everything at home it really seems to be a case of 'penny wise and dollar foolish'.

Last edited by Mark O'Neill; 10-24-2007 at 01:21 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 10-24-2007   #11
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Originally Posted by Mark O'Neill View Post
I am with the Iraqi principal on this one. The simple fact is that if Engineer project manager fails to do his job and leaves the 'user' to supervise the task that a trained engineer project manager should be doing, then failure on project delivery should be no surprise. (Unless you are truly as thick as a brick).

I cannot imagine the USACE handing over supervison of any domestic captial project to a school principal, I am mystified that anyone would do it on ops.
I am also amazed at the obvious lack of diligence in the commitment and supervision of Govt funds. For an organisation that stencils 'for official use only' on everything at home it really seems to be a case of 'penny wise and dollar foolish'.
Oh Mark,

Give me a few years and I could recall any number of similar idiocies I have seen all over Africa and the Middle East. Having been married to an AID officer for much of my time as a FAO, I got to see this stuff up close.

Talk to Stan; he has his own portfolio of assistance war stories.

The reality that drives such decision is the imperative to spend money, rapidly, and make it look good, allowng for a quick exit stage left. Rationale thought is not necessarily part of that process.

There was a movie in the 1980's with the title Inc., Incorporated. As I recall Eddie Albert was CEO and Judge Reinhold was a young executive. He was briefing the CEO on the lastet fighter the company was selling to a fictional African country. When asked why, Reinhold said, Country A wants Fighter Model A to keep up with Country B which is buying Fighter Model B (which Inc.Incorporated also made)." Anyway the CEO asked, "do they actually fly these aircraft?" "No," answered Reinhold, "They push them down hill from opposite sides of the valley which separates the two countries. The one that still rolls afterward wins. We win with more sales."

I found that comedy to be a perfect metaphor for our assistance to Zaire in competition with Congo-Brazza. I think Stan would agree.

Best

Tom

PS

then there was the time, USAID Cairo was forced to import slightly used Wisconsin dairy cattle to Egypt....

Last edited by Tom Odom; 10-24-2007 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 10-24-2007   #12
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Tom,

I note your (considerable) experience in these matters and accept the point you are making. From time to time I would remark (along with my mate the US DA) that similar things used to happen in Moz whereby very earnest 'donors' would push their particular national 'product/s'.

The point that I guess I was making was with regard to the arrant hypocrisy evident in such cases where the 'western' military guys (or media) then hook into the 'natives' for their 'ineptitude' in the face of such 'generosity'.

Cheers

Mark

PS - would love to hear in another forum one day the story of the Wisconsin cattle , I can imagine..
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Old 10-24-2007   #13
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I'm also curious and a bit worried about what "slightly used cattle" are...
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Old 10-24-2007   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beelzebubalicious View Post
I'm also curious and a bit worried about what "slightly used cattle" are...
Simple story really.

Before he became Sec Def, then Senator Les Aspin was always a severe critic of US assistance programs, unless of course they benefited his state. In the late 80s Wisconsin dairy industry had excess stock so some bright individual in the former senator's office came up with the idea to "donate" such cattle to Egypt. The mechanism used was a 100% tax write off for the donors and a 100% offset out of the Egyptian aid package that year. In essence, the Egyptians got to buy these used cows. The real kicker was of course that the life of a Wisconsin dairy cow--air condtioned barns, sterile conditions, etc did not prepare them for life in Egypt. As I recall we are talking about 100 cows, "valued" by the donors at $100K per cow for a $10 million package. They were all dead within 18 months.

Another Guiness moment. Brilliant!

Tom
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