The award of the largest USAID contract, which calls for $600 million worth of construction, was still pending as MEED went to press on 15 April.

Both houses of congress voted on 12 April to approve a supplemental $78,500 million appropriation in the present fiscal year to cover a wide range of costs incurred by the government in the war for Iraq and subsequent reconstruction work. More than three quarters is for military operations and over $3,000 million is to compensate countries for costs incurred in co-operating in the war for Iraq and the US-led anti-terror campaign (see box).

The appropriation calls for $2,468 million to be spent on humanitarian assistance, rehabilitation and reconstruction in Iraq. ‘These funds may be transferred to and made available for any federal government activity, other than any Department of Defense [DoD] activity,’ the appropriations bill says. The division of this amount among various activities was not specified, but USAID said on 12 April that the original budget request from the White House called for $1,700 million to be spent on reconstruction and $543 million for humanitarian relief. The State Department said on 14 April that the total non-DoD allocation is to be held in a new Iraq Relief & Reconstruction Fund controlled by the White House.

The other major specified budget allocation is $489.3 million for emergency fire-fighting, repairs to damaged oil facilities and related infrastructure and the preservation of the oil distribution system. This element of the budget is to be controlled by the DoD.

The supplementary budget includes a wide range of other items, some of which are not directly related to the war for Iraq. A total of $3,700 million is relief for the US airline industry and substantial sums have been allocated for the general war against terrorism. The supplementary budget is expected to be signed by President Bush soon.

USAID said on 12 April that up to three more reconstruction contracts are being considered to supplement the eight so far put out to tender. The three are to be for agriculture services, economic governance advice and the monitoring and evaluation of the capital construction contract. USAID said it has granted more than $20 million to non-government organisations (NGOs), including the Save the Children Fund, the International Medical Corps and the International Rescue Committee. A request for applications (RFA) for a community action programme in Iraq was issued on 11 April and a second RFA, for establishing links between US and Iraqi universities, is to be issued soon. In addition, USAID has awarded more than $293 million to the UN and other international organisations.