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Iraq Transition

Report: U.S. investment in Iraqi reconstruction at risk

Story Highlights

• Shoddy work found at seven of eight Iraq reconstruction projects, report says
• Maintenance lags after projects are turned over to Iraqi control
• Only 10 of 17 generators installed at airport remain operational
• Modular buildings built for $1.8 million were removed with no reason cited
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Poor construction, improper design, substandard materials and lack of maintenance have brought into question the usefulness of seven of eight U.S.-funded Iraq reconstruction projects.

So says an inspector general report that recently examined the eight reconstruction projects.

"If these projects are typical of the quality and effectiveness of operations and maintenance performance on transitioned projects, the value of the U.S. investment in Iraq reconstruction will be at risk," said Stuart W. Bowen Jr., the special inspector general, in his report to Congress and the Bush Administration. "Unless corrective action is taken, the useful lives of those projects will be significantly shortened."

In addition, 914 people -- including 224 U.S. citizens -- have died while working on the U.S.-funded projects, the report said.

The U.S. is spending $37 billion on Iraqi reconstruction.

The report said a major problem was the Iraqi government's lack of maintenance plans for the facilities after it has taken over control from the U.S.

For example, just 10 of the 17 electrical generators installed at a cost of almost $12 million at the Baghdad International Airport were operational. There was no plan for their maintenance, including keeping oil levels up, the report said.

Expensive generators were missing from the Camp Ur military base, having been hauled off to another post, the report said. Also at Camp Ur, three modular buildings constructed at a cost of $1.8 million were dismantled and removed with no explanation given.

Barracks renovated for enlisted soldiers were already in disrepair just a year after being handed over to the Iraqi Army, the inspector general said.

"Electrical wiring is pieced together to accommodate retrofitted lights and appliances that were not in the original design," the report said. "Newly installed fixtures, hardware and appliances have been pilfered or abused. A number of electrical generation systems was not adequately maintained and were inoperable at the time of the SIGIR's inspections."

Poor construction, design and materials also added to problems in the barracks' bathrooms, the report said:

"The inspection found that leaks from the upstairs floor had damaged floor tiles and ceilings on the ground floors. An inadequate design, combined with low-quality fixtures and poor workmanship, made the facilities too fragile for the volume of use they experienced. The problem was compounded by poor maintenance and abuse by the tenants."

One health project that was touted just a year ago as a major success has fallen far short, according to the report.

When the Erbil Maternity and Pediatric Hospital was completed and turned over to the Iraqi government last May it had a new medical waste incinerator. When U.S. inspectors visited the facility recently, they found the sewer system was now clogged with medical waste, which threatened patient health and the local water system.

The report said "the people initially trained to operate it were no longer employed at the hospital" so staff instead flushed medical waste into the toilets.

"In another example of chosen non-use, a new sophisticated oxygen generator and distribution system was used only as a backup system while hospital staff continued to use oxygen tanks that were not properly protected and secured," the report said.

The only project deemed to be functional and sustainable was a police station in Mosul.

The report said nearly all of the $37.4 billion appropriated by Congress for Iraqi reconstruction has now been spent.

A map of Iraq reconstruction projects is shown at a news conference in Baghdad earlier this month.


• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide


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