Sunday, April 02, 2006

More Iraq reconstruction problems

If there's one remaining thing that could improve the situation in Iraq, it would be actual reconstruction projects brought to completion. We've heard of the cases of Halliburton/Bechtel folks slapping paint on schools and calling it "reconstruction." We've heard of hospitals and schools being reopened - closed due to the invasion - and that being called "reconstruction." Now Parsons appears to say, simply, screw it. But read to the end of the article....
A reconstruction contract for the building of 142 primary health centers across Iraq has run out of money, after two years and roughly $200 million, with no more than 20 clinics now expected to be completed, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says.

The contract, awarded to U.S. construction giant Parsons Inc. in the flush, early days of reconstruction in Iraq, was expected to lay the foundation of a modern health-care system for the country, putting quality medical care within reach of all Iraqis.

Parsons, according to the Corps, will walk away from more than 120 clinics that on average are two-thirds finished. Auditors say its failure serves as a warning for other U.S. reconstruction efforts due to be completed this year...

Coming with little public warning, the 86 percent shortfall of completions dismayed the World Health Organization's representative for Iraq. "That's not good. That's shocking," Naeema al-Gasseer said by telephone from Cairo. "We're not sending the right message here. That's affecting people's expectations and people's trust, I must say."
Now let's have the bullshitting:
"Security degenerated from the beginning. The expectations on the part of Parsons and the U.S. government was we would have a very benign construction environment, like building a clinic in Falls Church," said Earnest Robbins, senior vice president for the international division of Parsons in Fairfax, Va. Difficulty choosing sites for the clinics also delayed work, Robbins said.
And, then, the finale:

Both said the Corps [of Engineers] had wanted to cancel the contract outright, and McCoy rejected the reasons that Parsons put forward for the slow progress.

"In the time they completed 45 projects, I completed 500 projects," he said. Parsons has a number of other contracts in Baghdad, from oil-facility upgrades to border forts to prisons. "The fact is it is hard, but there are companies over here that are doing it."

Bowen called the outcome "a worst-case scenario. I think it's an anomaly." He said, however, that U.S. reconstruction overseers overwhelmingly have neglected to keep running track of the remaining costs of each project, leaving it unclear until the end whether the costs are equal to the budget.

"I can't say this isn't going to happen again, because we really haven't gotten a grasp" of the cost of finishing the many pending projects, Bowen said.

One can only call all of this poor management, if not outright stupidity. All of the problems mentioned in the article could have been foreseen if one were not blinded by the large check from the US government dangling in front of your face.

Tell me someone, is it possible for US citizens to bring class action suits against the contractors in Iraq? Of course, the US government is responsible in the end. But it would be good to see those who have profited off of the deaths of tens of thousands be run out of business. That would, at least, be the moral route.


troutsky said...

So if you finally get a nice facility built and you turn to the Iraqi In The Street and you say, See, we are trying to help you. Will he: A. say thankyou, now go home B. say, we don't want your bloodsoaked charity, remove the permanent bases and go C. shoot you D walk inside, find a doctor,who has equipment, and get his child some care.

helmut said...

Probably E) all of the above. I would. Plus, maybe even F) cry.