IEEE Spectrum: Re-engineering Afghanistan

Sep 29, 2011, 12:27 ET from IEEE Spectrum

NEW YORK, Sept. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Reconstructing Afghanistan's electrical sector has cost billions of U.S. dollars—to little avail. The United States has committed $55 billion to reconstructing Afghanistan--even more than the $53 billion spent on Iraq. And yet, as in Iraq, far too little was achieved for the vast amount of money spent. Even more discouraging, many of the same mistakes made in the calamitous Iraq reconstruction were repeated in Afghanistan. In this exclusive investigative report, Executive Editor Glenn Zorpette, who spent three weeks in Afghanistan in March and April, describes the electrical sector of the reconstruction effort. Zorpette, who got access to top officials and confidential documents, explains exactly how hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted on electrical infrastructure projects that were poorly conceived and executed. A disproportionate share of the failures, he found, can be attributed directly or indirectly to the poor management of the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, the largest development organization in Afghanistan. In gritty detail, Zorpette pieces together a story of incompetence, arrogance, and greed that in some respects goes beyond the egregiousness of the fiascoes in Iraq.