$8.7b Iraq development funds unaccounted for

A simple question from GOOD magazine: where did the money to rebuild Iraq go? In 2003, the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) was established for the benefit of the country’s people. The Department of Defense (DoD) managed that money. According to a report [pdf] from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction:

Weaknesses in DoD’s financial and management controls left it unable to properly account for $8.7 billion of the $9.1 billion in DFI funds it received for reconstruction activities in Iraq. This situation occurred because most DoD organizations receiving DFI funds did not establish the required Department of the Treasury accounts and no DoD organization was designated as the executive agent for managing the use of DFI funds. The breakdown in controls left the funds vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss.

That’s 96% of 9.1 billion dollars that we apparently have no clue about how it was spent. What?

[Thanks, Elise]


  • Gerard St. Croix August 8, 2010 at 2:08 am

    Heh. For once a legitimate use of the pie chart.

  • How many trillions of U.S. money is unaccounted for in Washington? That’s a major problem.

  • I think that the money spent in Washington usually is accounted for very carefully, Steve. That’s how we find out about wrenches that cost thousands of dollars.

    Seems to me this should be in the headlines daily, and pundits should be calling for heads to roll. This is clearly criminal behavior.

    I’d like to see some graphs showing how far that kind of money would go (both here and in Iraq) if well-spent.

  • Philasaurus August 8, 2010 at 9:22 am

    As citizens of the US, we should demand that the Federal Government get audited.

  • this is so disgusting after what we have already done to destroy their country. I pray for the people of Iraq, many people who could afford to have had to flee to outside countries due to the massive amounts of murders and bombings that seem to follow the US troops. may the Iraqis who have fled one day be able to return to their country and homes and live safely without American influence or intervention in their matters.

  • Has this become “FlowingPolitics.com”? Has this become “FlowingDistortions.com”? The headline and the pie chart claim that the funds are “unaccounted for,” yet even the quote so carefully selected says that the money is “properly” accounted for. BIG difference between unaccounted for and not properly accounted for, but that would not fit the ridiculously slanted point of view this web site is so frequently displaying lately. I guess it just goes to show that (even on FlowingData.com) you can lie with statistics. I’ll be dropping my e-mail subscription to this site shortly – please someone post a few alternative sites that are focused on data visualization rather than political proselytizing. Thanks …

    • WAHHH! You posted a graph that doesn’t agree with my view, so I’m going to take my ball and leave!!!

    • Uhhhhh..what?
      It does NOT say that themoney is “properly” accounted for.
      It says that the department is unable to properly account for the money…
      therefore, the money is NOT properly accounted for… making it a reasonable statement that the money is unaccounted for, or at least improperly accounted for since properly accounted for is not an option.

    • @JB – I’m sorry to hear that, and I hope you do reconsider. I don’t think this is a political post though. It has to do with government, yes, but all we’ve done here is post the results of a study from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, and you can take what the report says however you want.

      information aesthetics, eager eyes, Ben Fry’s personal blog, NYT’s By the Numbers, WSJ’s Numbers Guy, and strange maps are great places to find more data-related material. Here’s a full list of stuff I’ve found helpful and interesting:


      Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

    • FlowingPolitics? FlowingDistortions?

      You call yourself “Joe Biden,” but you are not Mr. Biden. Why do you distort your identity and question the accuracy of the chart?

      You distort a minute linguistic stylization appearing in ‘accounted for’ and ‘unaccounted for’ so that you can neglect the larger, undisputed fact that the Bush Administration lost billions of dollars in its Defense Department. That’s not politics; that’s civics. That’s fact.

      Good bye, Joe Biden. And good riddance.

    • Why are you uncomfortable with the idea of holding our government accountable for its actions? Even if you want to view it as “political,” this isn’t some partisan garbage. Get your head out of the sand.

    • Political proselytizing would have been to say that the War in Afghanistan was illegal in the first place. To state that most of the funds are “unaccounted for” is a fair statement and just that. Unless you have facts to back up your statement, where is the actual lie?

  • A couple of questions that I think are important here:

    1) I could be wrong, but I find it unlikely that this is the only money we’ve spent on reconstruction in Iraq. A quick Google query puts the number at $53 billion, changing the shape of the data significantly. (http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2010-03-22-iraqcosts_N.htm )

    2) Is this money that is going to private contractors or directly to Iraqi businesses and people? If the first, than the fact that we can’t account for it is a travesty. If the latter the fact that we can’t account for it is much more forgivable. It would makes sense that individuals and businesses that are Iraq native would be far less likely to fill out the military paperwork necessary to maintain good and transparent tracking systems.

  • My oh my, that is just seriously a cause of concern. With debt coming up on different fields, every little penny should be accounted for.

  • duh.

  • So much of the money spent by our congress is spent on illegal projects (unconstitutional) that to even keep track of it is an exercise in futility. Congress has to be willing collaborators to the President as he can only sign laws not make them. (Other than influencing the Senate)