US Mission Iraq/INL: Sexing-up Them “Engagement” Numbers in Iraq?

Here is part of the SIGIR report that talks about the number of meetings (on the Iraqi side) and engagements (on the US Embassy Iraq/INL side) during the first three month period of 2012.

In late December 2011, Principal Deputy Minister of Interior al-Asadi ordered the formation of a committee within the MOI to coordinate with INL and manage MOI’s involvement with the PDP [Police Development Program]. The committee reported that MOI officials held 80 meetings with INL advisors from January 1 to April 1, 2012. (INL reported that it held 517 engagements with MOI personnel during the same three-month period.) In addition, the MOI committee noted that it had rejected 55 meeting requests by INL during the first three months of 2012. The committee characterized 52 meetings with INL as “beneficial,” 21 as “semi-beneficial,” 1 as “non-beneficial,” and did not assess the other 6. The MOI committee also concluded.

Let’s just say that there are no weekends at US Mission Iraq.

517 engagements
÷  90 days
—————————
=  5.744444 engagements a day for a three-month duration

Given that no one can just pick up and go in Iraq, and that it is deemed unsafe to travel without any security details over there, how does five meetings/engagements a day from just one part of US Mission Iraq even works?

What are included in these 517 engagements — meetings via emails? Appointments by telephones? Pigeon posts?  Two cans and a string? What counts?

Unfortunately, the SIGIR report did not explain what the meaning of “engagement” really is from the INL perspective. Or how many resulted in face-to-face or face-to-screen-meetings.

Well, whatever it is, the 517 “engagements” did not seem to help much.

According to SIGIR, as of July 2012, the number of INL in-country advisors was reduced to 36: 18 in Baghdad and 18 in Erbil, down from the 85 advisors supporting the program in January 2012.

Of course, in the glass is full perspective, one could argue that without that 517 “engagements”, the number of in-country advisors could have been down from 85 advisors to 6 or zero. The fact that we’re left with 36 should be considered a programmatic success or something.

SIGIR’s analysis of DoS’s FY 2013 budget request, however, shows that the Police Development Program support costs would go up to 94% of program funding and the per advisor costs would double to about $4.2 million per year.

In short, 36 advisors will still cost US taxpayers $151.2 million a year.

Before you get mad, just remember that we already have a $204.8 million savings from the 49 advisors who were cut off from the program.

This monopoly game is addicting and so exciting! Can we please buy a new school in my district with that money?

Domani Spero

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