US property missing in Baghdad
Published 03/06/2010 | 04:36
Tens of millions of dollars worth of US government property is missing or unaccounted for at the American Embassy in Baghdad.
The report from the US State Department's inspector general found that 159 of the embassy's 1,168 vehicles, worth 18.5 million dollars (£12.5 million), are unaccounted for.
The report said 282 vehicles worth 40.4 million dollars (£27.5 million) have not been properly registered, and 2.3 million dollars (£1.5 million) of other property, including furniture and other office equipment, is missing.
The audit does not say whether the missing property has been lost or stolen, but it says the failure to account for the items is unacceptable.
Auditors also found that the embassy - the largest US diplomatic mission abroad - is paying nearly 270,000 dollars (£184,000) per year in charges for more than 2,000 cell phones that have not been registered to authorised users. The report said the embassy could save more than 740,000 dollars (£504,000) a year by disconnecting unassigned and underused cell phones and limiting international calls.
In addition, the report said the embassy has 1,000 more handheld radios than it is using and could save 936,000 dollars (£637,000) if they were sent to posts where they are needed.
"Embassy Baghdad has had difficulty controlling and accurately accounting for its US government property," said the audit, which was conducted between July and November last year. It noted the difficulties of doing so in a war zone, a move to a new compound and frequent staff changes, but added that the inventories should have been done.
A response from the embassy said much of the data used by the inspector general was outdated or incomplete and that action had been taken to correct many of the deficiencies.
Aside from the missing or unaccounted items, the audit also found approximately 2.3 million dollars (£1.5 million) of property stored in warehouses or shipping containers that "should be considered excess" and returned or sent to other missions.
That included 1,069 chairs, 631 televisions, 614 mattresses, 681 tables and 563 DVD players.