Accountability and transparency in Iraq

Accountability and transparency in Iraq
As a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, I take very seriously my duty to ensure responsible use of taxpayer money. Unfortunately, over the last several years, spending has skyrocketed and our national debt has climbed to record levels.

Congress simply hasn't been able to make the tough choices to balance the budget and reign in spending.

But there is good news recently. Earlier this year, I was proud to join with the Blue Dogs to insist that the House of Representatives pass tough new pay-as-you-go spending rules, requiring that any new spending or decrease in revenue must be offset with savings found elsewhere. More simply put, it ensures that the government doesn't spend what it doesn't have, a rule that South Dakota families live by every day.


In that spirit, Blue Dogs have also been leading the charge to demand accountability in the way we are spending money on the war in Iraq. A recent report issued by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction detailed continued and egregious abuses in the funding of the war.

The report found a number of eye-opening examples of waste, fraud and abuse, including inadequate facilities and non-functioning equipment built by highly paid contractors, insufficient monitoring of government contracts, and literally billions of dollars unaccounted for due to inefficiencies and bad management.

This is unacceptable, and we owe our troops and the American taxpayers more.

That's why the Blue Dogs introduced House Resolution 97, titled, "Providing for Operation Iraqi Freedom Cost Accountability." Language from this bill was included in the recent Defense Authorization bill, and it will address the lack of oversight and accountability in the war by requiring that the Government Accountability Office report every six months on the handling of contracts in Iraq.

In addition, the Defense Authorization bill includes measures that establish essential management goals for the Department of Defense and expand the authority of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction to include all reconstruction funding regardless of source or fiscal year.

This is a victory for taxpayers in South Dakota and nationwide, as Americans deserve to have a better accounting of how their money is being spent, especially when that money is allocated to our national defense.

By increasing the oversight of military spending, we will ensure that necessary resources for are targeted appropriately � like the protection of our troops with new equipment, training and body armor. Every dollar spent on the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan must be squarely directed toward making sure our troops have the resources they need to complete their mission safely and effectively.

By enforcing a new level of accountability and transparency in how we spend money on the war, Congress will be doing right by every taxpayer and every soldier fighting overseas.

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