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.