SIGIR Reports: Hey, Anybody Know What Happened to the $2 Billion?

02/06/2012 12:48 pm ET | Updated Apr 07, 2012

The latest Quarterly and Semiannual Report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) was released January 30, 2012. What follows are relevant excerpts of some of the more noteworthy contractor related activities.

On December 21, a U.S. contractor was sentenced to 3 months confinement followed by 2 years of supervised release for lying to federal agents during the course of an investigation. The agents were investigating a fraud scheme involving the theft and resale of generators in Iraq to various entities, including the U.S. government. When he was initially interviewed in Iraq, he denied any involvement in the fraud scheme. The investigation demonstrated that he had in fact signed fraudulent U.S. documents and received money on several occasions for his part in the scheme.

As of December 31, 2011, the Defense and State departments and the US Agency for International Development had reported 88,380 contracting actions, projects, and grants, totaling $40.31 billion in cumulative obligation.

As of January 23, 2012, 15,154 employees of U.S.-funded contractors and grantees supported DoD, DoS, USAID, and other U.S. agencies in Iraq. The number of contractor employees declined by 72% since the end of last quarter, dropping from the 53,447 registered as of September 30, 2011.

As you would expect, now that the U.S. mission has been handed off to the State Department, the largest number of contractors, 9,228, are working for State, with 3,823 of those being American.

The second largest share is working for the U.S. Army, which has a total of 5,118 under contract, with 2,737 of the American.

One very interesting point comes towards the end, in the section on oversight. To appreciate this a little trip down memory lane is in order.

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) -- anyone remember Paul Bremer? -- was established in May 2003 to provide for the temporary governance of Iraq. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1483 created the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and assigned the CPA full responsibility for managing it. The DFI comprised revenues from Iraqi oil and gas sales, certain remaining Oil for Food deposits, and repatriated national assets. It was used, in part, for Iraq relief and reconstruction efforts.

During its almost 14-month governance, the CPA had access to $20.7 billion in DFI funds and directed expenditures of about $14.1 billion. The CPA had $6.6 billion under its control when its mission ended on June 28, 2004. The Government of Iraq OI gave DoD access to about $3 billion of these funds to pay bills for contracts the CPA awarded prior to its dissolution.

Most of these funds were deposited into a DFI sub-account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) established for this purpose.

SIGIR initiated an audit to determine whether DoD properly accounted for its use of the $2.8 billion deposited into the DFI sub-account at the FRBNY after the CPA dissolved, and $217.7 million in cash that remained in the presidential palace vault when the CPA dissolved. Here is what it found:

DoD cannot account for about two-thirds of the approximately $3 billion in DFI funds made available to it by the GOI for making payments on contracts the CPA awarded prior to its dissolution.

Most of these funds ($2.8 billion) were held in the DFI sub-account at the FRBNY; the remainder ($217.7 million) was held in the presidential palace vault in Baghdad. FRBNY records show that DoD made about $2.7 billion in payments from the DFI sub-account. However, the FRBNY does not have specifics about the payments or financial documents, such as vendor invoices, to support them. It required only written approval from the GOI to issue payment.

Although DoD had responsibility for maintaining documentation to support the full $2.7 billion in expenditures made from the FRBNY subaccount, it could provide SIGIR documentation to support only about $1 billion. Although DoD established internal processes and controls to report sub-account payments to the GOI, the bulk of the records are missing. As a result, SIGIR's review was limited to the $1 billion in available records. SIGIR examined 15 payments from this group and found most of the key supporting financial documents.