An excerpt from Molly Ivin's column:
Our chief executive is a graduate of Harvard Business School, and his Cabinet is studded with former CEOs. This was supposed to be the "management administration" -- government was to be run like a big business, meetings would start on time, not like those slack Clinton years.
These folks are giving management a bad name.
Back in Iraq, the $30 billion appropriated for the reconstruction of Iraq is running out.
According to a New York Times article on the report by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, "Officials in charge cannot say how many planned projects they will complete, and there is no clear source for the hundreds of millions of dollars a year needed to operate the projects that have been finished. ... (The report describes) an array of projects that went awry, sometimes astonishingly, like electrical substations that were built at great cost but never connected to the country's electrical grid."
After two-and-a-half years and $30 billion, electricity in Baghdad is on intermittently, just as it was two-and-a-half years and $30 billion ago. So you figure, "Of course nothing's getting done -- there's an insurgency, the country's sliding into chaos."
Let's look to Afghanistan, where peace reigns. How goes the rebuilding there? Oops. According to The New York Times, a New Jersey company got the contract to build 96 health clinics and schools by September 2004. To date, nine clinics and two schools have been completed and passed inspection. The company told the Times it is hard to get good help in Afghanistan -- they have to use Afghani construction companies. After four years of reconstruction in Afghanistan, the United States has spent $1.3 billion, and according to American and Afghani sources, nobody's sure where the money is and how it's been spent -- and the net result is between unimpressive and pitiful.
The agency in charge, the U.S. Agency for International Development, says things are moving right along and defends its programs.
One of the funnier legacies of the Nixon administration was an accounting award named after Maurice Stans, a secretary of commerce and chairman of the finance committee for Nixon's re-election, who kept suitcases of cash in his office and pled guilty to five misdemeanors relating to mishandling money. In that fine tradition, the Bushies should establish a management award named the Heckuva Job Brownie Prize. It would go to the person who makes the best suggestion for improving government management -- like, "Roll up your sleeves, it makes you look like you're working."