Afghan Reconstruction Audits Saved More Than $1 Billion, Watchdog Says
The Defense Department has saved or repurposed $1.1 billion in taxpayer funds since 2008, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said Tuesday. By Charles S. Clark
Since its launch in 2008, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has issued seven key audits with recommendations for the Defense Department that saved or repurposed $1.1 billion in taxpayer funds, the watchdog announced on Tuesday.
The auditors issued 209 recommendations to Defense, chiefly to its Central Command, of which 161 were fully implemented, 35 were closed without being implemented and 13 remain open, said a reportupdated as of June 2014.
The summary—published just as the bulk of U.S. troops have left war-torn Afghanistan-- covers the work of the first SIGAR, Arnold Fields, who resigned under fire in January 2011, as well as that of his replacement, incumbent John Sopko, who arrived in July 2012.
About half of the 209 recommendations were designed to assist in efforts to build the Afghan National Security Forces and ensure the security of U.S. personnel and reconstruction sites. Another 84 were aimed at either ensuring accountability or oversight of contract funds, or ensuring that facilities are safely constructed and used as intended, the report said.
“DoD’s implementation of these recommendations improved the accountability of U.S. funds spent on reconstruction activities in Afghanistan,” the report said, adding that in one report, SIGAR found that the Pentagon “lacked a comprehensive basing plan” for the Afghan forces that factored in future reductions in personnel.
At SIGAR’s recommendation, the Defense Department’s Combined Security Transition Command for Afghanistan stopped construction on all or part of 101 projects, saving up to $800 million. Because of two other audits, an additional $11.1 million in questioned costs was recovered.
Fifteen of the recommendations, the reported noted, were closed because Defense has not provided sufficient evidence of implementation.
SIGAR will continue to monitor the 13 recommendations that remain open. They deal with ensuring accountability for oversight of contract funds and improved planning for the sustainability of reconstruction projects.