This is an amendment that is very important to me. I appreciate the leadership of my colleagues, Senator McCaskill and Senator Webb and all of the freshman Democrats supporting this legislation. The goal of this is to bring more public accountability to the way our government does business.
I think you and I both know, Mr. President, having spent the last two years going around our states, that people are yearning for more public accountability from our government.
They’re yearning for more transparency. We heard calls for that increased transparency. Here we have, in the area of Armed Services and the area of government contracting, a chance to act on it. This amendment establishes an independent bipartisan commission to strengthen government oversight and examine the true costs of the contracting culture that the Federal government relies upon in Iraq. This idea is not unprecedented.
The legislation is inspired by the work of the Truman commission, fitting that Senator McCaskill is from Missouri as was President Truman. The Truman commission, as you know, conducted hundreds of hearings and investigations into government waste during World War II at an estimated savings of more than $178 billion in today's dollars. $178 billion. You think of what that would mean to the American taxpayer today at a ime when we're spending somewhere between $10 and $23 billion a month in Iraq. There is, unfortunately, a natural tendency in this country toward excess and corporate excess.
When people are given unlimited contracts, no-bid contracts, I think you can expect excess. I come from a prosecutor background. We know when people are given leeway -- and maybe even when they have the best intentions -- the people on charge, on the ground, it leads to fraud and the government is on the short end of the stick. It is more than just a cost of doing business when we're looking at what we've been seeing in Iraq with private contractors over the last five years. The number of contractors in Iraq, the last estimate I had was180,000, now exceeds the number of American combat drops in
Iraq. We are not talking about creating an additional bureaucracy here. We're talking
about expanding an infrastructure that already exists.
The special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction excellence performance we have seen in uncovering waste, fraud and abuse in Iraq reconstruction projects is proof of its ability to conduct more interagency examination of wartime contracts. The special inspector general for Iraqi reconstruction has proven to be a powerful tool in investigating reconstruction contracts. In 2005 alone it reported a loss of $9 billion tax dollars due to a contractor inefficiencies and bad management.
I can tell you this, Mr. President:  my job as county attorney when we had a case we would say, follow the money. And you find the bad guy. We need to do that with Iraqi contractors. As a GAO defense contract audit agency, and news reports expose gross mismanagement in defense contracting. That's why I'm so proud to support this amendment. We've heard that of the $57 billion awarded in contracts for reconstruction in Iraq this was investigated, approximately $10 billion has been wasted. $4.9 billion was lost through contract overpricing and waste, $5.1 billion was lost through unsupported contract charges. Of this $10 billion more than $2.7 billions with charged by Halliburton. This means almost one in six federal tax dollars sent to rebuild Iraq has been wasted.
While we have heard in dollars the staggering amounts this waste amounts to $10 billion, the cost of mismanagement, the contracts extends beyond -- of mismanaged contracts steps beyond that. In Baghdad, we have seen the city enjoying an average of 6.5 hours of electricity a day. It has gone down from a year ago. In water, congress provided nearly $2 billion to provide clean drinking water and repair sewer systems. According to the World Health Organization 70% lack access to clean drinking water. With jobs, the Defense
Department estimated the unemployment rate is anywhere from 13.6% to 60%. In a recent survey, only 16% of Iraqis said they're current incomes met basic needs. These costs are unacceptable to the people in Iraq and unacceptable to the taxpayers of this country.
My colleagues and I, and you are one of them, Mr. President, came to Washington demanding accountability. So, today, I am proud to be part of a group that supports an important amendment, to bring more transparency, to bring accountability, to contracting in Iraq. Thank you very much. I yield the floor.