Congressmen Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations, and Subcommittee Ranking Member, John Tierney (D-MA) introduced H.R. 6485, the Accountability of Taxpayer Funding for Afghanistan Fuels Act of 2012. This legislation will provide strict oversight and accountability of the Defense Department's current petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) procurement and delivery program, as well as future plans to give the Government of Afghanistan direct aid to purchase POL for themselves.
"Until we know how much we actually need to spend on POL and firewood, where and how fuel is actually used, and whether or not fuel has been lost or stolen, I will not stand by and watch as we throw U.S. taxpayer dollars down the drain," said Chaffetz. "We simply cannot delegate the authority and oversight of billions of taxpayer dollars to the Afghan government without reliable controls in place. If the DOD can't track and verify these expenditures, then how can we expect the Afghan government to do better?"
"It is completely unacceptable that the Department of Defense has provided more than one billion dollars in fuel to the Afghan Army without any accountability and now plans to transfer this responsibility to the Afghans," said Congressman Tierney. "Our bill prevents the transfer of control to the Afghans until they demonstrate that they can reliably account for the fuel. These are common-sense standards that ensure accountability and will prevent future abuse of U.S taxpayer dollars."
H.R. 6485 is bipartisan legislation introduced to address mismanagement and a lack of accountability and transparency with respect to the Defense Department's program to supply the Afghan National Army (ANA) with POL. The bill mandates that the Secretary of Defense certify to Congress that the POL and firewood it provides to the Government of Afghanistan is fully justified and accounted for. The legislation also prohibits the Defense Department from providing funds directly or indirectly to the Government of Afghanistan for purposes of purchasing POL and firewood -- unless and until the Secretary of Defense along with SIGAR certifies to Congress that the Government of Afghanistan has strict oversight and accounting measures in place.
The Subcommittee was made aware of these serious allegations of potential waste, fraud, abuse and document destruction associated with POL procurement by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in recent weeks. In two Subcommittee hearings held in as many weeks, SIGAR John Sopko testified on his recently released interim report. In these hearings he testified that, "No single office within the U.S. or Afghan government... has complete records on ANA fuel purchased, ordered, delivered, and consumed." The interim report also alleges that that the DOD may have shredded financial records for hundreds of millions of dollars in POL.
In February 2012, SIGAR began assessing U.S. efforts to develop ANA's capability to acquire, distribute, and account for POL supplies to its forces. The SIGAR report cites that for fiscal years 2007--2012, the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) has provided almost $1.1 billion in Afghan Security Forces Funding to purchase POL for the ANA.
Despite the lack of records and justification for fuel purchases, the Department of Defense proposes to increase funding. From FY-14 to FY-18, it plans to provide $555 million dollars worth of POL per year. Instead of purchasing POL for ANA, beginning in early 2013, DOD plans to give cash directly to the Afghan Government to purchase POL for themselves.
When pressed upon this matter during a recent hearing, representatives from the DOD couldn't provide sufficient answers to questions posed by Subcommittee Members regarding financial records. With questions remaining unanswered, and a cloud of uncertainty over the current program, unfortunately legislation became a necessary course of action.