Waste and Fraud in Afghanistan: A Greatest Hits Collection

The government watchdog has 318 ongoing cases, according to its latest quarterly report.

U.S. Marines walk on top of their Light Armored Vehicles (LAVs) while on patrol near the American military compound at Kandahar Airport January 16, 2002 in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
National Journal
Feb. 11, 2014, 10:12 a.m.

Al­leg­a­tions of waste, fraud, and mis­man­age­ment in U.S.-backed ef­forts in Afgh­anistan are catch­ing Con­gress’s at­ten­tion.

Since fisc­al 2002, the United States has al­loc­ated more than $102 bil­lion for re­lief and re­con­struc­tion pro­jects in Afgh­anistan. And as the Spe­cial In­spect­or Gen­er­al for Afgh­anistan Re­con­struc­tion looks through that 11-di­git spend­ing bill, its re­ports sug­gest a pat­tern of mis­used funds.

The mil­it­ary is liv­id over SIGAR’s re­ports, ac­cus­ing it of miss­ing the mark and even set­ting up its own “4 Phase Plan of Ac­tion to be 1st with the truth” aimed at de­fend­ing its pro­grams and point of view.

But thus far, it hasn’t been enough to stave off calls for ac­tion from mem­ber of Con­gress, in­clud­ing Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who said SIGAR’s latest quarterly re­port “stresses the dire need for in­creased scru­tiny and re­forms” for U.S.-backed re­con­struc­tion pro­jects in Afgh­anistan.

Here’s are some of SIGAR’s high­lights:

$1.6 Bil­lion: The amount of dir­ect aid the U.S. Agency for In­ter­na­tion­al De­vel­op­ment pledged to Afgh­anistan in 2013, ac­cord­ing to a SIGAR re­port re­leased at the end of last month. USAID agreed to give dir­ect as­sist­ance to sev­en Afghan min­is­tries des­pite de­term­in­ing that “it could not rely on the min­is­tries it as­sessed to man­age donor funds without a host of mit­ig­a­tion meas­ures in place.”

But a State De­part­ment spokes­per­son pushed back at the audit, not­ing that the aid has been re­duced to $1.06 bil­lion, and only $300 mil­lion has been dis­bursed “in large part be­cause of the rig­or­ous meth­od­o­logy em­ployed in the im­ple­ment­a­tion of the pro­grams.”

$486 Mil­lion: Twenty G222 air­craft were sup­posed to be giv­en to the Afghan Air Force. In­stead, the planes ended up at the Ka­bul In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port where they will be stripped of mil­it­ary equip­ment and des­troyed, ac­cord­ing to a Decem­ber let­ter from John Sop­ko, who over­sees SIGAR. The planes got 234 of the re­quired 4,500 fly­ing hours, ac­cord­ing to the SIGAR let­ter, no­ti­fy­ing Pentagon lead­ers that it is launch­ing an in­vest­ig­a­tion.

$36 Mil­lion: The empty, newly con­struc­ted headquarter fa­cil­it­ies at Camp Leath­er­neck is a well-doc­u­mented ex­ample of po­ten­tial gov­ern­ment waste. Mil­it­ary of­fi­cials have said that the build­ing is un­needed, and un­der the White House’s cur­rent plan the base will be closed by this time next year. But an Army in­vest­ig­a­tion found that with ad­di­tion­al fund­ing and con­struc­tion, U.S. ser­vice mem­bers could use the build­ing. That re­port had an un­in­ten­ded con­sequence — it re­launched a SIGAR in­vest­ig­a­tion.

$597,929: The amount paid to an Afghan con­tract­ing com­pany to build a hos­pit­al in Salang, a vil­lage in north­east­ern Afgh­anistan. When SIGAR in­spec­ted the hos­pit­al, “staff “¦ were wash­ing new­borns with un­treated river wa­ter,” ac­cord­ing to the re­port, be­cause there was no clean wa­ter. The con­tract­ors also didn’t fol­low the con­tract re­quire­ments when build­ing the hos­pit­al, cre­at­ing “ser­i­ous safety con­cerns” be­cause of the fre­quency of earth­quakes in that re­gion of the coun­try. The cent­ral com­mand for U.S. forces in Afgh­anistan, however, re­spon­ded to the SIGAR re­port with a de­fense of the hos­pit­al, call­ing it a “sig­ni­fic­ant step for­ward in med­ic­al ser­vices for loc­al Afghans.”

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