This morning's Washington Post includes a front page story detailing alleged mismanagement and questionable expenditures by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), headed by Stuart W. Bowen, Jr., a former Bush adviser who has earned equal praise from Democrats and Republicans alike for his dogged approach to uncovering... well, mismanagement and questionable expenditures in the Iraq reconstruction.
According to the Post, Bowen's office is the target of at least three ongoing investigations, by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Presidential Council on Integrity and Efficiency, and the U.S. Army's Equal Employment Opportunity Office. Echoing State Department Inspector General Howard "Cookie" Krongard's recent troubles, all three are said to have resulted from complaints brought by members of Bowen's own staff. Among the charges: that due to abuse of federal overtime policies, at least 10 staff members netted more than $250,000 last year (General Petraeus pulled down $174,900, by comparison); that Bowen's pursuit of a $3.5 million book project about the Iraq reconstruction became a financial sink hole; and that Bowen and his deputies reviewed employee emails without permission, allegedly to identify "who was loyal and who was not," according to one aggrieved staffer. Compounding the misery at SIGIR—which according to another employee quoted by the Post, is "gripped by paranoia" and has taken on "a siege mentality"—is the revelation earlier this year that the office's claim to have saved taxpayers $1.87 billion in reconstruction spending was not only untrue, but way, way off the mark: a new estimate last summer put the figure at just $95 million, or five percent of SIGIR's original claim.
Despite all this, the SIGIR model stands to be expanded in the latest version of the 2008 Defense Authorization Bill, which was passed by the House earlier this week and is now awaiting Senate approval before making its way to President Bush's desk. It would create a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) to "conduct, supervise and coordinate audits and investigations of the treatment, handling and expenditures of appropriated funds by the United States government, and of the programs, operations and contracts carried out utilizing such funds in Afghanistan in order to prevent and detect waste, fraud and abuse," according to the bill.