Your Most Gigantic Waste of Taxpayer Money Today List, Afghan Edition
Our good friends at the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released a high-risk list for the Afghanistan reconstruction effort that calls attention to areas that are especially vulnerable to significant waste, fraud, and abuse.
Quick recap for those who haven’t binge-read the SIGAR reports for the past 13 or so years: the U.S. has spent $104 billion on the “reconstruction” of Afghanistan since 2001. The goal of all this was to defeat the Taliban with “soft power,” winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people by building them stuff like the roads and bridges and schools America needs here at home, and by creating jobs and providing Afghans the job training needed here at home. This massive waste of money follows the failure of a similar multi-year effort in reconstructing Iraq. Success in both instances can be judged by the rising success of the Taliban/ISIS.
But anyway, enough about history. Here’s where your tax dollars are being specifically wasted in Afghanistan, as quoted from the SIGAR report!
1) Corruption/Rule of Law
–The initial U.S. strategy in Afghanistan fostered a political climate conducive to corruption.
–U.S. assistance has been provided for reconstruction without the benefit of a comprehensive anticorruption strategy.
–Much of the more than $104 billion the United States has committed to reconstruction projects and programs risks being wasted because the Afghans cannot sustain the investment without massive continued donor support.
–Under current and future plans, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are not fiscally sustainable.
3) Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) Capacity and Capabilities
–In an audit report on ANSF facilities, SIGAR found that the Afghan government would likely be incapable of fully sustaining ANSF facilities after the transition in 2014/2015 and the expected decrease in U.S. and Coalition support.
–An audit report raised concerned that, despite a $200 million literacy-training contract, no one appeared to know the overall literacy rate of the ANSF.
4) On-Budget Support
–SIGAR has long been concerned about the risk to U.S. funds provided to Afghanistan in the form of on-budget assistance, since 2002 U.S. has committed more than $7.7 billion.
–An audit of the $236 million Partnership Contracts for Health program found USAID continues to provide millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in direct assistance with little assurance that the Afghan Ministry of Public Health is using these funds as intended.
–Although the U.S. has invested about $7.8 billion in counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan, Afghan farmers are growing more opium than ever before.
–The latest U.S. strategy documents indicate that combating narcotics in Afghanistan is no longer a top priority.
6) Contract Management and Oversight Access
–No one knows the precise value of contracting in the Afghanistan reconstruction effort that began in 2002: the federal government has no central database on the subject.
7) Strategy and Planning
–Lack of “implementation/operational planning” — making sure that U.S. activities in Afghanistan actually contribute to overall national goals there — threatens to cause agencies and projects to work at counter purposes, spend money on frivolous endeavors, or fail to coordinate efforts to maximize impact.
What a great war we’re having!