Report: Defense Department Sitting on $1.5 Billion for Afghanistan Reconstruction Projects

Money intended for local transportation, power, and education has yet to be spent.

A soldier stands guard near a C17 military aircraft sitting on the tarmac on December 8, 2013 in Kandahar.
National Journal
April 27, 2015, 7:52 a.m.

After 14 years in Afgh­anistan, the De­fense De­part­ment has suc­cess­fully trans­ferred 813 U.S. bases to the Afghan Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Forces, but it has yet to spend roughly $1.4 bil­lion in­ten­ded for loc­al trans­port­a­tion, power, and edu­ca­tion pro­jects, a watch­dog group found.

Of the $2.3 bil­lion spent un­der the Com­mand­er’s Emer­gency Re­sponse Pro­gram in Afgh­anistan from 2004 to 2014, the Pentagon could provide fin­an­cial in­form­a­tion for only 40 per­cent, the spe­cial in­spect­or gen­er­al for Afgh­anistan re­con­struc­tion—or SIGAR—con­cluded in a re­port re­leased Fri­day.

“Cur­rent fin­an­cial and pro­ject man­age­ment sys­tems used by DoD in track­ing CERP pro­jects do not con­tain suf­fi­cient data re­lat­ing to ob­lig­a­tions and dis­burse­ments or com­pre­hens­ive in­form­a­tion re­lat­ing to the ac­tu­al costs of pro­jects,” SIGAR said in a sum­mary.

The in­spect­or gen­er­al asked mil­it­ary lead­ers to re­spond to ques­tions about the base trans­fers, ex­press­ing con­cern that “the lim­ited plan­ning as­so­ci­ated with the trans­fer of Camp Leath­er­neck may be in­dic­at­ive of broad­er dif­fi­culties as­so­ci­ated with the trans­fer of former U.S. mil­it­ary bases to the AN­SF.”

The reas­ons for not spend­ing such a large por­tion of the au­thor­ized funds, SIGAR John Sop­ko said in a let­ter to loc­al com­mand­ers last year, in­clude the fact that “the troop draw­down may have re­duced the need for these funds, or mil­it­ary com­mand­ers may have re­duced the cost of vari­ous pro­jects through ef­fect­ive over­sight. An­oth­er factor may have been the over­arch­ing chal­lenge of budget­ing for small-scale re­con­struc­tion pro­jects in an un­pre­dict­able con­flict zone plagued by vi­ol­ence, cor­rup­tion, and sus­tain­ab­il­ity chal­lenges.”

SIGAR plans to fur­ther ana­lyze the pro­gram’s per­form­ance data.

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