Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Another Thing I Told You a Year Ago....

Though I desperately hate reducing myself to proving to you how right I have been for over a year now by providing shallow news commentary, I just can't resist when a few tidbits cross my path. I have not spoken about the shift in view of who our enemy really is (islam and muslims not just some make-believe 'radical' group) but if you've listened to talk radio or TV editorial news, then you may have noticed similarities in today's rhetoric and what I had been saying more than a year ago. Eventually the world wil lcome around to my point-of-view ;)

One of the many aspects of Iraq that you, as a regular reader of my blog, new first handedly last year......

From my military Early Bird news site:

New York Times
October 25, 2006
Pg. 1

Idle Contractors Add Millions To Iraq Rebuilding
By James Glanz

Overhead costs have consumed more than half the budget of some reconstruction projects in Iraq, according to a government estimate released yesterday, leaving far less money than expected to provide the oil, water and electricity needed to improve the lives of Iraqis.
The report provided the first official estimate that, in some cases, more money was being spent on housing and feeding employees, completing paperwork and providing security than on actual construction.
Those overhead costs have ranged from under 20 percent to as much as 55 percent of the budgets, according to the report, by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. On similar projects in the United States, those costs generally run to a few percent.
The highest proportion of overhead was incurred in oil-facility contracts won by KBR Inc., the Halliburton subsidiary formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root, which has frequently been challenged by critics in Congress and elsewhere.
The actual costs for many projects could be even higher than the estimates, the report said, because the United States has not properly tracked how much such expenses have taken from the $18.4 billion of taxpayer-financed reconstruction approved by Congress two years ago.
The report said the prime reason was not the need to provide security, though those costs have clearly risen in the perilous environment, and are a burden that both contractors and American officials routinely blame for such increases.
Instead, the inspector general pointed to a simple bureaucratic flaw: the United States ordered the contractors and their equipment to Iraq and then let them sit idle for months at a time.
The delay between “mobilization,” or assembling the teams in Iraq, and the start of actual construction was as long as nine months.
“The government blew the whistle for these guys to go to Iraq and the meter ran,” said Jim Mitchell, a spokesman for the inspector general’s office. “The government was billed for sometimes nine months before work began.”
The findings are similar to those of a growing list of inspections, audits and investigations that have concluded that the program to rebuild Iraq has often fallen short for the most mundane of reasons: poorly written contracts, ineffective or nonexistent oversight, needless project delays and egregiously poor construction practices.
“This report is the latest chapter in a long, sad and expensive tale about how contracting in Iraq was more about shoveling money out the door than actually getting real results on the ground,” said Stephen Ellis, a vice president at Taxpayers for Common Sense in Washington.
“These contracts were to design and build important items for oil infrastructure, hospitals and education, but in some cases more than half of the money padded corporate coffers instead,” he said.
Although the federal report places much of the burden for the charges squarely on the shoulders of United States officials in Baghdad, the findings varied widely over a sampling of contracts examined by auditors, from a low of under 20 percent for some companies to a high of over 55 percent.
One oil contract awarded to a joint venture between Parsons, an American company, and Worley, from Australia, had overhead costs of at least 43 percent, the report found. One contract held by Parsons alone to build hospitals and prisons had overhead of at least 35 percent; in another, it was 17 percent.
The lowest figure was found for certain contracts won by Lucent, at 11 percent, but the report indicates that substantial portions of the overhead in those cases could not be determined.
The report did not explain why KBR’s overhead costs on those contracts — the contracts totaled about $296 million — were more than 10 percent higher than those at the other companies audited. Despite past criticism of KBR, the Army, which administers those contracts, has generally agreed to pay most of the costs claimed by the company.
Melissa Norcross, a spokeswoman for KBR, said in a written reply to questions, “It is important to note that the special inspector general is not challenging any of KBR’s costs referenced in this report.”
“All of these costs were incurred at the client’s direction and for the client’s benefit,” she said, referring to the Army Corps of Engineers, which is in charge of the oil contract.
But a frequent Halliburton critic, Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat who is the ranking minority member of the House Committee on Government Reform, disputed those assurances. “It’s incomprehensible that over $160 million — more than half the value of the contract — was squandered on overhead,” Mr. Waxman said in a written statement.
The majority leader of the same committee, Thomas M. Davis III, a Virginia Republican, declined to comment.
A spokeswoman for Parsons, Erin Kuhlman, said the United States categorized overhead and construction costs differently from contract to contract in Iraq, making it difficult to make direct comparisons. “Parsons incurred, billed and reported actual costs as directed by the government,” she said.
In Iraq, where construction materials are scarce and contractors must provide security for work sites and housing for Western employees, officials have said they expect the overhead to be at least 10 percent, but the contractors and American officials have grudgingly conceded that the true costs have turned out to be higher.
But even the high of 55 percent could be an underestimate, Mr. Mitchell said, because the government often did not begin tracking overhead costs for months after the companies mobilized. He added that because of the haphazard way in which the government tracked the costs, it was not possible to say how well the figures reflected overhead charges in the entire program.
The report’s conclusions were drawn from $1.3 billion in contracts for which United States government overseers actually made an effort to track overhead costs, of the total of $18.4 billion set aside for reconstruction in specific supplemental funding bills for the 2006 fiscal year.
When all American and Iraqi contributions are added up, various estimates for the cost of the rebuilding program range from $30 billion to $45 billion. Language included in the Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Bush last week, states that the inspector general’s office will halt its examination of those expenditures by October of next year.
Maj. Gen. William H. McCoy, who until recently commanded the Persian Gulf region division of the Corps of Engineers, disputed some of the inspector general’s findings in a letter appended to the report. Things like “waiting for concrete to cure” could still be taking place during what seem to be periods of inactivity, General McCoy wrote, so a quiet period “does not mean that the project is not moving forward.”
But many of the delays came during 2004 and took place in response to political developments in Iraq, the inspector general’s report says. The American occupation government, the Coalition Provisional Authority, mobilized many of the companies early that year.
After the authority went out of existence in June 2004, handing sovereignty to the Iraqi government, top American officials then kept the companies idle for months as the officials rewrote the rebuilding plan, and ran up costs as little work was done.


Blogger SnotSucker said...

You're so smart, & dreamy too! :))

Anonymous InterstellarLass said...

I don't think I argued with you.

Blogger Robert Chase said...

I just loved the way he gazed at me and held my hand at the bar in Manayunk. :-)

Blogger Carnealian said...


Blogger Robert Chase said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger Robert Chase said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Anonymous crys said...

so the votes are in. america may finally be changing course, a little. are we disillusioned yet?

Blogger Robert Chase said...

While happy the democrats won control of congress, this was the results of people fed up with republicans and the extreme right more than anything else.
I think what will happen in 08 is canidates and incumbents will have to move closer to th ecenter. And I know Dorman does not agree with the centrist p.o.v unless he has changhed his opinion. :)

Anonymous crystal said...

I was referring to the fact that voters exiting the polls disapproved of the war in Iraq by 57% in some surveys, not the flaws inherent in the lack of representation of more viewpoints because of our two-party system.

Blogger Dorman said...

Well, many people have become disillusioned enough to do something about it, like I had been suggesting for a long time now...right BH? I am happy a lot of shit has been flushed from our political leadership. It definitely increases the chances of actual change.

But let's not get too happy Bob. Just because we removed a bunch of shitbags does not A) mean that it had anything to truly do with the political spectrum, B) mean that Democrats are always or even in this case considered better or correct C) that centrists POV is correct at all. D) that anything wil lactually change.

Why? Because it is the same old political system that has not worked since FDR broke the fucker 60+ years ago. So we voted out the rapists because we are now tired of rape, and we voted in the thieves. How long until we are tired of thievery and long for the good old days of rape? Look, Dems suck as bad as Republicans do because they both have been circling the drain politically for 20 years now. In the center. FYI, the "center" is the position that statistically makes the most people angry, disenfranchised, and represents the least amount of people. In centrism, both sides lose to whatever degree. Centrism has never worked in any venue.

Bob, we have not seen the extreme right. Reagan was the closest thing to Right Wing that we have seen, ever. We never complained under him, did we? And these are not the same Dems as the Kennedy dems.

The whole system needs replaced. Both parties are shit. But the good news of this election is that the informed and conscientious people in this slothy country are finally being heard and effecting some kind of temporary change. When our policies and actions as a country finally do change and we get the hell out of other countries, then I will believe the system has begun to repair itself.

Otherwise, the Who said it all, "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

Anonymous crystal said...

predictable...FDR didn't break the system. the executive branch may have a lot of leeway over foreign policy, but no one president can break the system. and that is a beautiful thing.

Blogger Dorman said...

FDR was the culprit who created the bureaucracy, created the idea of a paternalistic gov't, and exponentially grabbed States' powers and assimilated them to the Federal arsenal. He created the dependency by bailing the nation out of a depression and joblessness, solidifying it all by the nationalism instilled by WWII.

That broke the system and every professional politician and president since has based his career on increasing the bureaucracy and the dependency of the american people. Today, States' Rights isn't even a concept we understand nor employ.

That defines "breaking" to me. At least Lenin was honest.

Anonymous crystal said...

So basically the millions of people in our country who were affected by the depression and mismanagement of the economy with no federal oversight deserved to suffer without any governmental response?

I understand your point in the growth of the bureacracy and the loss of state rights as related to this period (which you could technically trace back to Lincoln and a state's right to self-determination). But I also believe that for any man to turn his back to what was happening to the American people even more than it had been would have been an even greater tragedy. So bring on the alphabet soup because according to my great-granddaddy who lived and grew up with the fireside chats, FDR was a great man, and I believe him.

As for Lenin, how does honesty negate cruelty? But just for fun, let's analyze our honest Comrade Lenin. A man who starts a Civil War through a coup, establishes the Gulags to send his political enemies, and builds a party apparatus for one of the most repressive, dishonest, falsely propagandistic and farcical governments the world has ever seen is not the type of person I would label as honest. But that's just me.

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Blogger Dorman said...

hardship is no excuse for fucking up.

Anonymous One of many Tracys said...

Can I ask yet another question?

Did you and your family celebrate American holidays while you lived in Germany? (Like Thanksgiving, the 4th, etc.)

Anonymous crystal said...

I guess I don't consider it messing up. Just a necessary step in the progression of our history.

Blogger Dorman said...

Crys, same for Lenin.

One of.... yes we did, we even invited the german communities to come on base and celebrate with us.

Anonymous One of many Tracys said...

Cool. Thanks for graciously answering my questions.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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