For the second time in as many days, Congressman Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations, held a hearing regarding lack of transparency and accountability on billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars spent on Afghanistan reconstruction and transition. Today's hearing focused on an Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) interim report released earlier this week.
"SIGAR's findings are extremely troubling," said Chaffetz. "But they seem to fit a pattern we are witnessing within the Defense Department."
The Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) -- led by the United States military -- is responsible for training and equipping the Afghan National Army (ANA). An effort funded by the U.S. taxpayer through the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund. During the hearing, SIGAR John Sopko testified on the interim report which warns against potential waste in the Afghan National Army's (ANA) fuel program and the shredding of supporting documents by Defense Department personnel stationed in Afghanistan.
In February SIGAR began assessing U.S. efforts to develop ANA's capability to acquire, distribute, and account for petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) supplies to its forces. The SIGAR report cites that for fiscal years 2007--2012, CSTC-A has provided almost $1.1 billion in ASFF funding to purchase POL for the ANA. In the same report it also cites that "no single office within the U.S. or Afghan government has complete records on ANA fuel purchased, ordered, delivered, and consumed."
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, the Obama Administration plans to give two-thirds of that amount in cash directly to the Afghan government. In the name of capacity building, the Afghans will be allowed to purchase POL for themselves.
"The Afghan government will be responsible for overseeing the expenditure of roughly $2.8 billion of our taxpayer dollars. This begs one simple question," said Chaffetz. "If the United States government can't track and verify these expenditures, then can we honestly expect the Afghan government to do better?"