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U.S. wastes $10 billion in Iraq, say auditors

February 16, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — About $10 billion has been squandered by the U.S. government on Iraq reconstruction aid because of contractor overcharges and unsupported expenses, and federal investigators warned Thursday that significantly more taxpayer money was at risk.

The three top auditors overseeing work in Iraq told a House panel that their review of $57 billion in Iraq contracts found that Defense and State officials condoned or allowed repeated work delays, bloated expenses and payments for shoddy work or work never done.

More than one in six dollars charged by U.S. contractors was questionable or unsupported, they said, nearly triple the amount of waste the Government Accountability Office estimated last fall.

"There is no accountability," said David M. Walker, who heads the auditing arm of Congress. "Organizations charged with overseeing contracts are not held accountable. Contractors are not held accountable. The individuals responsible are not held accountable."

Also testifying Thursday were Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, and William H. Reed, director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

The Bush administration has spent more than $350 billion on the Iraq war and reconstruction.

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