The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has found the Pentagon task force spent more than half of its $675 million in contract obligations on indirect costs and overhead not directly related to development projects in Afghanistan.
The temporary program, called the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, was appropriated $823 million by Congress, of which $675 million was spent on projects, many of which were abandoned of left incomplete, because of “safety concerns, lack of sustainable design, and other problems,” according to a report by SIGAR.
The U.S. officials were unable “to provide reliable data showing the extent to which [task force] projects created jobs, facilitated foreign direct investments, increased exports, or increased Afghan government revenues,” investigators found.
The Pentagon’s unit had “unrealistic expectations” about Afghanistan’s politics, culture, weather and dangers, and “did not have the time, resident expertise, or outside support it needed to do everything it set out to do,” SIGAR wrote.
The task force’s ability to execute reconstruction contracts was not the only shortfall, investigators found. In their report, SIGAR found that 43 of 89 contracted reviewed by the office “used limited competition and sole-source contracting, increasing the government’s risk of waste.” In one case, investigators found the task force awarded seven separate contracts — worth a total of $35.1 million — to reconstruction firms whose senior staff were also task force members.
In the meantime, the deputy spokesman of the Afghan Ministry of Defense, Muhammad Radmanish said, “We had problems in the past, but now the Ministry of Defense leadership seriously fights against the corruption.”
The consumption of global aids and its impact on the situation of Afghan citizens has always been a question, but who is the main culprit of these challenges?
“This careless bookkeeping means American taxpayers may never know what happened to the rest of their money,” said Naser Teymori, a member of Afghanistan Transparency watchdog.
This comes as the SIGAR report confirmed the criticisms of Afghan people that the global aids in the past 16 years have not brought any changes to the lives of people.