Issa: Rebuilding Iraq to top $3.5 billion

Although President Bush submitted a wartime supplemental budget request to Congress that included $3.5 billion for rebuilding Iraq, the cost of rebuilding the country may run significantly higher than that, said Dale Neugebauer, chief of staff for Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

Issa's office has identified one contract to build a cell phone network that may cost as much as $1 billion alone, Neugebauer said.

Unlike other rebuilding efforts, such as those under way in Afghanistan, the effort in Iraq will be different, Neugebauer said. The country already has a fair amount of wealth, so it may contribute some money to the rebuilding effort.

"To the greatest degree possible, we'd like to see the Iraqi people pay for the reconstruction themselves, but, ultimately, I think the cost to the U.S. taxpayer will be higher than $3.5 billion," Neugebauer said.

Issa has introduced legislation, H.R. 1441, that calls for post-war rebuilding contracts to be given to American companies whenever feasible. On March 25, President Bush submitted a wartime supplemental budget request to Congress that asked for $74.7 billion, which included $3.5 billion for rebuilding the country. These funds will address everything from providing food, water and clothing to repairing damaged infrastructure and restoring government services.

Most of the work will be contracted through the Defense Department or through the U.S. Agency for International Development, industry sources said. The USAID is already issuing some contracts in Iraq, said Darwin Johnson, senior vice president of public services for BearingPoint Inc., McLean, Va.

On March 27, the integrator won a three-year, $39.9 million contract from USAID to help the Afghan government implement economic policy and institutional reform measures. The contract includes an option for two years, which could bring the value of the project to $64.1 million.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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