Cost oversight

Friday, May 14, 2004

The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch

As if the escalating violence in Iraq weren't discouraging enough, a shocking lack of oversight apparently has allowed many of the billions of dollars sent for rebuilding Iraq to disappear into a maze of corruption. Failure to take every step necessary to ensure the success of this most essential part of the U.S. mission is intolerable.

The desperate rush to make progress and the chaotic conditions of a war zone no doubt have contributed to inefficiencies and less-than-optimum prices.

A culture of corruption that flourished under Saddam Hussein, moreover, couldn't be expected to disappear overnight among the Iraqis selling goods and services to the coalition's rebuilding effort.

What's much harder to accept is that the Bush administration has declined to use the cost controls that are available -- chiefly, independent oversight -- to make sure that taxpayers money really is building schools and power plants, rather than sticking to greedy fingers.

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