In their ongoing effort to prevent taxpayer waste in Afghanistan, Congressmen Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chairman of the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, and Ranking Member, John Tierney (D-MA) introduced H.R. 327, the Accountability of Taxpayer Funding for Afghanistan Fuels Act of 2013. This legislation will provide strict oversight and accountability of the Defense Department's (DOD) current petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) procurement and delivery program.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released its final audit today citing waste, fraud, abuse, and still missing documents in DOD's POL assistance program in Afghanistan. The purpose of this program is to supply POL to the Afghan National Army (ANA) to sustain their operations.
"The waste, fraud, and abuse SIGAR continues to find in Afghanistan are extremely concerning. This must stop. As lawmakers, it is our responsibility to ensure U.S. taxpayer dollars aren't going up in smoke," said Chaffetz. "The SIGAR report confirms the need for continued oversight and legislation. H.R. 327 is commonsense bipartisan legislation that would require DOD to be accountable to Congress for taxpayer dollars spent on POL in Afghanistan."
"This report confirms what we already suspected--that the Defense Department has had limited oversight over the more than $1 billion in U.S. taxpayer dollars used to provide fuel to the Afghan Army," said Congressman Tierney. "I find it deeply troubling that DOD is committed to spending nearly $3 billion in the coming years based on insufficient records and the lack of a demonstrated need. Our bill prevents this undisciplined spending by demanding accountability from DOD and the Afghans."
As a result of SIGAR's investigation and the Subcommittee's oversight efforts, CSTC-A produced records from FY 2007 through February 2010 that were previously unaccounted for. However, SIGAR has found that records from March 2010 through February 2011 -- totaling $201 million -- remain missing. SIGAR reports that "these records were shredded after converting the original hard copies to electronic media. To date, however, CSTC-A has not located the electronic copies."
Additionally, SIGAR finds that "approximately $2.8 billion that CSTC-A estimates will be necessary to fund purchases of ANA POL between fiscal years 2014 and 2018 are based on questionable calculations."
Also cited in the report, both SIGAR and the Army Audit Agency have raised serious concerns regarding providing direct contributions to the Afghan government for purposes of purchasing POL for themselves. Despite these concerns, as early as March 2013, CSTC-A still plans to contribute one third of its ANA POL budget to the Afghan government -- an amount SIGAR estimates -- would total over $1 billion over the next six years.
H.R. 327 mandates that the Secretary of Defense certify to Congress that the POL it provides to the Government of Afghanistan is fully justified and accounted for. The legislation also prohibits the DOD from providing funds directly or indirectly to the Government of Afghanistan for purposes of purchasing POL -- 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.
Full text of H.R. 327 can be found here.
Full text of SIGAR report can be found here.