Last year, when news started to break that Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) Stuart Bowen was being accused of mismanagement, we wrote a blog that said:
"Not surprisingly, Virginia Republican Tom Davis has also opened an investigation into Bowen as well. Probably few individuals have better undermined Tom Davis' agenda of handing out goodies to defense and IT contractors than Stuart Bowen who has exposed billions of dollars in contractor pilfering. We can hear the squeals of glee from here."
My tone clearly suggested that Rep Davis' interest in probing Bowen's alleged wrongdoing was misguided, and was fueled only by pique at Bowen's revelations of contracting waste, fraud and abuse in Iraq, rather than a genuine concern for good government. It is true Davis has been the self-styled Representative to the contractors, and his acquisition reforms have set the taxpayers back billions. But, while Bowen's good work probably didn't make him man-of-the-hour in Davis' mind, it does look like the SIGIR may need to clean up his own act.
As the months have passed, and as I've learned more lately from insiders about the charges that are the subject of an ongoing grand jury investigation, it appears Bowen and his Deputy Ginger Cruz really have turned the SIGIR shop into an unhappy home for the auditors and investigators who are all about saving the taxpayer money. In fact, the issue that continues to irk people there most (other than their emails being spied on) is the brazen abuse of per diem policy by some at SIGIR that allows staff to receive premium pay if they go to Iraq for 42 days. The explosion of 43-day trips resulted in huge overtime benefits. The Washington Post found that:
"At least 30 SIGIR employees charged between 800 and 1,400 hours of overtime and compensatory time in 2006-- p to almost nine months of additional work stuffed into the year. Thirty-seven others charged between 200 and 725 hours of overtime and comp time.'The number of hours didn't wash,' said a senior SIGIR official. 'It's physically and mentally impossible to work that many hours.'"
So, in the end, I thought it was important to point out that on this one--along with his call for the removal of Special Counsel Scott Bloch and his support of whistleblower protections--Rep. Davis was barking up the right tree. The SIGIR needs to live up to the high standards it holds for others.
-- Danielle Brian