U.S. inspector general for Iraq under investigation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Stuart Bowen, the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction whose office has uncovered abuse of both Iraqi and U.S. funds, is under investigation himself, a White House spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

U.S. special inspector general for Iraq Stuart Bowen testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington February 8, 2006. The hearing was held to address issues affecting the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“Complaints against Mr. Bowen are being looked at by the integrity committee of the PCIE (President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency), said spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore.

She gave no details about the investigation or the nature of the complaints against Bowen, who heads the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, or SIGIR.

Bowen’s office declined comment.

The council, created in 1992, is comprised of presidentially appointed inspectors general and headed by Clay Johnson, the deputy director for management of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Johnson told Reuters he had no details on the nature of the allegations against Bowen, saying only they were filed by former and current employees.

“Right now there have been no findings,” he said, adding the inspector general of the Social Security Administration had been appointed by the integrity committee to conduct the investigation.

“It has been going on for a long time,” Johnson said.

He said he chaired the council, but emphasized it was independent of the White House, and his role was very limited. He said the integrity committee was created in 1996 to investigate any allegations involving inspectors general.

Several former SIGIR employees filed complaints about Bowen in 2006, focusing on charges that he failed to come to work for long periods at a time, and used SIGIR staff to work on a book about the broad lessons of Iraq reconstruction, said one former SIGIR employee, who asked not to be identified.

“It is SIGIR’s standing policy neither to confirm nor deny the existence of any investigation, whether by SIGIR investigators or any other (U.S. government) agency,” said spokeswoman Denise Burgess.

Bowen was appointed as inspector general of the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority in January 2004, remaining in that role after the creation of SIGIR.

His office produces quarterly reports to Congress about Iraq reconstruction efforts. His latest report said seven of eight rebuilding projects that costing about $150 million had previously been declared successes, were now in disrepair or had been abandoned.

Bowen, a lawyer who spent four years in the U.S. Air Force, previously served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush as well as associate counsel.

Before his White House tenure, Bowen was a legal adviser to the Bush-Cheney transition team; and from 1994 to 2000, he held a variety of positions on Bush’s staff in Texas, when Bush was governor.

Johnson said he had no information about a separate investigation by the council of Johnnie Frazier, the Commerce Department inspector general, which was first reported in the Washington Post on Wednesday.