Iraq Reconstruction IG Nabs a Couple Bad Guys

U.S. Soldiers in Iraq

The office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) released its 24th quarterly report on Saturday. If you haven't been paying attention to what's been going on in Iraq recently, it's worth a read. Besides providing observations on what's happening in the country and detailing the sources and uses of reconstruction funds, the inspector general's report also describes their recent oversight activities and successes in rooting out corruption within government contracting overseas.

Among SIGIR's investigations this past quarter, several are worth mentioning (details of each case are available in the report):

  • Major John Cockerham, Melissa Cockerham (his wife), Carolyn Blake (his sister), and Nyree Pettaway (his niece) were all sentenced in U.S. District Court for their participation in a bribery and money-laundering scheme related to bribes paid for contracts awarded in support of the Iraq war.
  • A former DoD contracting officer was sentenced to 110 months in prison for filing false income tax returns in which he failed to report more than $2.4 million in income.
  • A retired U.S. Army major was sentenced to 57 months in prison for his role in a bribery scheme involving DoD contracts.
  • A Coalition partner citizen was arrested for money laundering involving a Coalition Provisional Authority contract.

That's a pretty diverse group of people, which shows you how broad SIGIR's reach extends. In addition to these convictions, the inspector general's office has debarred a number of individuals and contractors, and has saved almost $82 million while redirecting another $230 million to better use because of their investigations.

The inspector general's office is currently operating with a $30 million budget in FY 2010, double what they had in FY 2009, and President Obama has asked Congress for $22 million in FY 2011. As the U.S. begins to withdraw troops from Iraq over the next two years – a period in which our resources will be particularly vulnerable to fraud and waste – SIGIR's presence will become vitally important and it makes sense to invest adequately in their mission.

Image by Flickr user The U.S. Army used under a Creative Commons license.

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