Q&A | Iraq auditor Stuart Bowen

QIs this work rewarding?

AYes. The oversight philosophy — to generate audits rapidly to give managers info they need to correct the course they’re on — has worked. SIGIR is listened to in Iraq and Washington.

QWhat is the biggest challenge in your work?

AOversight in a warzone. I’ve had one auditor killed and five wounded.

QWhat is your advice to the new administration?

AAddress the lack of a framework for the management of contingency relief and reconstruction operations. That means: Find a way to achieve unity of command and effort in a rebuilding program. Too often in Iraq, the State Department was doing one thing, the Department of Defense another, the U.S. Agency for International Development a third. Too frequently they were not in sync.

QWhat has the Obama administration done so far ?

AThey are listening. We met with them yesterday. They are very receptive to the lessons learned in this report.

QHow did you feel about the conflict in Iraq when you started doing this work, and how do you feel about it now, given everything you have learned?

AI certainly had no idea the oversight mission would be as immense or long-lasting as it’s turned out to be. I didn’t expect it to be a $50 billion program, I didn’t expect us to have to spend over half that money on security, and I didn’t expect it to fall so far short of its goals.

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