The money requested for rebuilding Iraq seems excessive, even to many politicians.Contractors deny any gouging, padding or featherbedding.
"This is a low-margin business, very competitive," said Bob Band, president and CEO of the Perini Corp., which holds a $66 million Pentagon contract for restoring electric power in Iraq. [Seattle Times]
The evidence appears to contradict that claim.
In northern Iraq, for example, U.S. Army commanders seeking to rebuild a local cement plant were told by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, working with American contractors, that the job would cost $15.1 million. Instead, the Army commanders turned to local Iraqis, who got the job done for $80,000, [Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. ] said. [Seattle Times]
Congress is trying their best to find out who is raking in the dough and how much is being raked in, but without much success:
Luke Zahner, a spokesman for the U.S. Agency for International Development, said that under federal acquisition regulations, the agency cannot release "cost breakdowns, profits or similar information" contained in its Iraq reconstruction contracts. [Seattle Times]
In the meantime, the beat goes on.
USAID has hired yet another contractor for $15 million to monitor other contractors' work. [Seattle Times]
Let your Congressman know what you think, one way or the other.