On July 12, 2007 the White House released its first congressionally-required progress report, titled the Initial Benchmark Assessment Report. The report is a result of a May 25, 2007 congressional supplemental appropriations bill, H.R.2206, establishing 18 benchmarks to measure progress in Iraq and requesting quarterly reports on those benchmarks. President George W. Bush summarized the report on July 12, 2007 as follows:
"Two months ago, in the supplemental appropriations bill funding our troops, Congress established 18 benchmarks to gauge the progress of the Iraqi government. They required we submit a full report to Congress by September the 15th. Today my administration has submitted to Congress an interim report that requires us to assess -- and I quote the bill -- 'whether satisfactory progress toward meeting these benchmarks is or is not being achieved.'
Of the 18 benchmarks Congress asked us to measure, we can report that satisfactory progress is being made in eight areas. For example, Iraqis provided the three brigades they promised for operations in and around Baghdad. And the Iraqi government is spending nearly $7.3 billion from its own funds this year to train, equip and modernize its forces. In eight other areas, the Iraqis have much more work to do. For example, they have not done enough to prepare for local elections or pass a law to share oil revenues. And in two remaining areas, progress was too mixed to be characterized one way or the other."
I. "Introduction" and "Summary of Achievements and Shortfalls" of the July 12, 2007 "Initial Benchmark Assessment Report"
Section 1314 of the U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007 (Public Law 110-28) states that the President is to submit to Congress two reports assessing the status of each of the 18 benchmarks contained in the Act and declaring whether, in the President's judgment, satisfactory progress is being achieved with respect to those 18 benchmarks.
These benchmarks relate to Government of Iraq actions believed to be important to advance reconciliation within Iraqi society, to improve the security of the Iraqi population, to provide essential services to the population, and to promote its economic well-being. These efforts complement other U.S. and Iraqi collaborative actions as part of the New Way Forward.
Summary of Achievements and Shortfalls
This report provides, consistent with the Act, an assessment of how the Iraqi Government is performing on 18 specified benchmarks, rather than the effects being generated. Some of the benchmarks may be leading indicators, giving some sense of future trends; but many are more accurately characterized as lagging indicators, and will only be achieved after the strategy is fully underway and generates improved conditions on the ground.
For example, local political accommodations have dramatically improved conditions in what had been some of Iraq's most violent areas, and we are deploying our resources to help ensure that these trends continue and spread. It will take time, however, for improved conditions locally to translate into broader political accommodations at the national level; what is important is the overall trajectory, which, under our present strategy, has begun to stabilize, compared to the deteriorating trajectory seen over the course of 2006. Thus, the assessments in this report should be viewed in a larger context: the discussion below provides a snapshot of achievements and shortfalls that can round out the picture given in the detailed assessment section of this report.