Inspectors get inspected

GETTY Images The Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR)—which has spent the past three years looking into allegations of fraud, misconduct, and waste in the efforts to rebuild Iraq—is now under investigation itself. According to a front-page story in today’s Washington Post, the FBI, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, ...

597592_stuartbowen_05.jpg
597592_stuartbowen_05.jpg

GETTY Images

The Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR)—which has spent the past three years looking into allegations of fraud, misconduct, and waste in the efforts to rebuild Iraq—is now under investigation itself. According to a front-page story in today's Washington Post, the FBI, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Presidential Council on Integrity and Efficiency, and the Army's Equal Employment Opportunity are all conducting separate probes into misdeeds by Inspector General Stuart Bowen and his staff. Some of the allegations, and expenditures that have raised eyebrows:

Overtime policies that allowed several employees to earn more than $250,000 per person last year. That's more than the salaries of the vice president or supreme court justices. One inspector earned $346,017 last year, claiming more than 1,200 hours of overtime.
A $3.5 million book project about the reconstruction of Iraq, modeled after the 9/11 Commission.
Bowen and his deputy, Ginger Cruz, allegedly went through employee emails to determine who was loyal and who was not.
Cruz, a self-described Wiccan, has allegedly made sexual remarks and threatened to put hexes on employees. (She denies that she made sexual remarks and says that she's been cleared by an internal SIGIR investigation.)
Cruz sought and was granted special dispensation by Bowen to use SIGIR money to pay for her legal fees.
An employee, after raising questions about discrimination over the dismissal of an African American employee, was dismissed herself, just two months after receiving a $8500 bonus for outstanding performance.

GETTY Images

The Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR)—which has spent the past three years looking into allegations of fraud, misconduct, and waste in the efforts to rebuild Iraq—is now under investigation itself. According to a front-page story in today’s Washington Post, the FBI, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the Presidential Council on Integrity and Efficiency, and the Army’s Equal Employment Opportunity are all conducting separate probes into misdeeds by Inspector General Stuart Bowen and his staff. Some of the allegations, and expenditures that have raised eyebrows:

  • Overtime policies that allowed several employees to earn more than $250,000 per person last year. That’s more than the salaries of the vice president or supreme court justices. One inspector earned $346,017 last year, claiming more than 1,200 hours of overtime.
  • A $3.5 million book project about the reconstruction of Iraq, modeled after the 9/11 Commission.
  • Bowen and his deputy, Ginger Cruz, allegedly went through employee emails to determine who was loyal and who was not.
  • Cruz, a self-described Wiccan, has allegedly made sexual remarks and threatened to put hexes on employees. (She denies that she made sexual remarks and says that she’s been cleared by an internal SIGIR investigation.)
  • Cruz sought and was granted special dispensation by Bowen to use SIGIR money to pay for her legal fees.
  • An employee, after raising questions about discrimination over the dismissal of an African American employee, was dismissed herself, just two months after receiving a $8500 bonus for outstanding performance.

Ironically, SIGIR has been cited by both Democrats and Republicans as an example of an agency that has worked effectively to spot mismanagement and overspending, and dig out bad apples. It must be payback time. A SIGIR official told the Post that the agency’s headquarters is “gripped by paranoia. It’s almost a siege mentality.”

Christine Y. Chen is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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