Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Iraqi clinic boondoggle

When last we saw the Clinic Boondoggle, a month ago, the plan to provide Iraq with a modicum of medical care which the war destroyed was about to receive Last Rites. Now a federal report presents the autopsy results:
A $243 million program led by the United States Army Corps of Engineers to build 150 health care clinics in Iraq has in some cases produced little more than empty shells of crumbling concrete and shattered bricks cemented together into uneven walls, two reports by a federal oversight office have found.

The reports, released yesterday, detail a close inspection of five of the clinics in the northern city of Kirkuk as well as a sweeping audit of the entire program, which began in March 2004 as a heavily promoted effort to improve health care for ordinary Iraqis. The reports say that none of the five clinics in Kirkuk and only 20 of the original 150 across the country will be completed without new financing.


Interior photographs of the structures show bare walls made of brick fragments through which sunlight streamed and stairs made of concrete already crumbling into dust.

And when inspectors compared what they saw to progress reports, some of the numbers seemed suspiciously high. One structure, essentially a rickety shell of uneven bricks, had been declared 56 percent complete. The second floor of another shell held up by little more than wooden sticks — a standard method of bracing unfinished floors in Iraq — had been declared half complete. (New York Times)
Poor cost accounting, incompetence and lax oversight by the Corps are blamed, although the stench of corruption hangs over it, as with everything this Administration touches. Yes, it's a tough environment. Yes, the Corps made laughably incompetent management decisions.

And yes, $243 million is a shithouse full of money.