A May 22, 2008 Department of Defense Inspector General’s audit examined 183,486 commercial and miscellaneous payments totaling $10.7 billion from April 2001 to June 2006 (98.8% of these were paid out after January 2003) made from Army disbursement centers in Kuwait ($7.6 billion), Iraq ($3.1 billion), and Egypt ($21.1 million). The audit took a statistical sample of 789 payments worth $3.5 billion.
702 of the 789 in the sample involved commercial payments, and of these only 40 contained no errors. In other words, the audit found problems in 94% of the commercial payments it looked at. On this basis, it estimated that out of some $8.3 billion in payments “the Army made $1.4 billion in commercial payments that lacked the minimum documentation for a valid payment” and that another $6.3 billion did not fully comply with regulations.
The audit also found 53 payments of $1.8 billion in seized Iraqi assets made by Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) which were not “adequately accounted for and auditable.” In the most egregious case, the only information in a voucher for $320.8 million dated July 22, 2003 is “Iraqi Salary Payment,” a quantity 1000 (apparently referring to the number of employees), and the unit price $328,000 (the highly dubious amount each was supposed to be paid).
And it found 22 vouchers worth $134.8 million paid to Coalition partners out of the Commander’s Emergency Program (CERP). None contained documentation that the funds were spent for their intended purpose.
In other audits, the DOD IG found that in a sampling of $2.7 billion of $5.7 billion in construction and equipment transfers to Iraqi Security Forces that some $2 billion (or 74%) could not adequately be accounted for.
Now to be fair some of the money for which there is little or no paperwork may have been spent, if not wisely, at least for its intended purpose but a sizeable fraction was not and how much money was stolen or wasted we will never know precisely because the accounting system, if that is what you could call it, was so bad.