Rebuilding Iraq: Resource, Security, Governance, Essential Services, and Oversight Issues

GAO-04-902R Published: Jun 28, 2004. Publicly Released: Jun 28, 2004.
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Rebuilding Iraq is a U.S. national security and foreign policy priority. According to the President, the United States intends to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom and has a vital national interest in the success of free institutions in Iraq. As of April 30, 2004, billions of dollars in grants, loans, assets, and revenues from various sources have been made available or pledged to the reconstruction of Iraq. The United States, along with its coalition partners and various international organizations and donors, has embarked on a significant effort to rebuild Iraq following multiple wars and decades of neglect by the former regime. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), established in May 2003, was the U.N.-recognized coalition authority led by the United States and the United Kingdom that was responsible for the temporary governance of Iraq. Specifically, the CPA wasresponsible for overseeing, directing, and coordinating the reconstruction effort. On June 28, 2004, the CPA transferred power to a sovereign Iraqi interim government, and the CPA officially dissolved. To pave the way for this transfer, the CPA helped the Iraq Governing Council develop the Law of Administration for the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period in March 2004. The transitional law provides a framework for governance of Iraq while a permanent government is formed. In June 2004, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546 provided international support to advance this process, stating that, by June 30, CPA will cease to exist and Iraq will reassert full sovereignty. Resolution 1546 also endorsed the formation of a fully sovereign Iraqi interim government; endorsed a timetable for elections and the drafting of an Iraqi constitution; and decided that the United Nations, at the Iraq government's request, would play a leading role in establishing a permanent government. Resolution 1546 further noted the presence of the multinational force in Iraq and authorized it to take all necessary measures to contribute to security and stability in Iraq, in accordance with letters annexed to the resolution. Such letters provide, in part, that the multinational force and the Iraqi government will work in partnership to reach agreement on security and olicy issues, including policy on sensitive offensive operations. Resolution 1546 stated that the Security Council will review the mandate of the multinational force in 12 months or earlier if requested by the government of Iraq and that it will terminate the mandate if requested by the government of Iraq. As part of our broad effort to monitor Iraq reconstruction, which we undertook at the request of Congress, this report provides information on the status of the issues we have been monitoring, as well as key questions that will assist Congres in its oversight responsibilities. Specifically, this report focuses on issues associated with (1) resources, (2) security, (3) governance, and (4) essential services. For the essential services issue, we focused on the Army Corps of Engineers' Restore Iraqi Electricity project, a major component of the U.S. assistance effort to rebuild the power sector.

As of the end of April 2004, about $58 billion in grants, loans, assets, and revenues from various sources had been made available or pledged to the relief and reconstruction of Iraq. Resource needs are expected to continue after the transfer of power to a sovereign Iraqi interim government. Of the funds available, the United States obligated about $8 billion of the available $24 billion in U.S. funds. The CPA obligated about $15.5 billion of the nearly $21 billion in available Iraqi funds. The international community pledged nearly $14 billion. In December 2003, the CPA put into effect an Iraqi-led process to coordinate reconstruction efforts. An October 2003 U.N./World Bank assessment noted that Iraq's ability to absorb resources as the country gains sovereignty and decision-making authority will be one of the most significant challenges to reconstruction. The security situation in Iraq has deteriorated since June 2003, with significant increases in attacks against the coalition and coalition partners. The increase in attacks has had a negative impact on military operations and the work of international civilian organizations in Iraq. As part of the effort to provide stability, the coalition plans to transfer security responsibilities from the multinational force to Iraqi security forces and to dissolve Iraqi militias operating outside the central government's control. During the escalation of violence that occurred during April 2004, these security forces collapsed in several locations. However, key elements of the CPA's transition and reintegration process remain to be finalized. With U.S. and others' assistance, Iraqis have taken control of government institutions at the national and subnational levels. National ministries are providing some services to citizens as their facilities are being rebuilt, reforms are being introduced, and their staffs trained. According to the head of the now-dissolved CPA, all ministries were under Iraqi authority as of the transfer of power on June 28, 2004. However, the security situation hinders the ability of the ministries to provide needed services and maintain daily operations. To reform the rule of law, ongoing efforts have begun to establish a functioning independent judiciary, although courts are not at their pre-war capacity. However, efforts to rebuild Iraq's judicial system and restore the rule of law face multiple challenges. U.S. officials said that rehabilitating and reforming Iraq's judicial system will likely take years. The Coalition considers reconstruction of the power sector critical to reviving Iraq's economy, supporting essential infrastructure, improving daily well-being, and gaining local support for the coalition presence in Iraq. The CPA set a goal of 6,000 megawatts of generating capacity by June 30, 2004, in anticipation of the higher demand for power during the summer months. As part of the overall effort to achieve this goal, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has undertaken $1.4 billion in work under the Restore Iraqi Electricity (RIE) program. As of late May, the Corps anticipated that 59 of the 66 RIE projects expected to help meet the goal would be completed by June 30. However, electrical service in the country as a whole has not shown a marked improvement over the immediate postwar levels of May 2003 and has worsened in some governorates. RIE contractors report numerous instances of project delays due to difficulties in getting employees and materials safely to project sites. Further, the security environment continues to affect the cost of rebuilding the power sector.

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