Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s Danger Room November 2, 2012
Just days after an inspector general report revealed that a giant Pentagon contractor performed “unsatisfactory” work in Afghanistan, the U.S. Air Force awarded the firm another multimillion-dollar pot of cash.
Virginia’s DynCorp, which performs everything from private security to construction for the U.S. military, has re-upped with Air Force to help pilots learn basic flying skills on the T-6A/B Texan II aircraft, a training plane. The deal is only the latest between DynCorp and the Air Force on the Texan II: In June, the Air Force Materiel Command gave the company a deal worth nearly $55 million for training services. The latest one, announced late Thursday, is worth another $72.8 million, and lasts through October 2013.
But the Air Force’s lucrative vote of confidence in DynCorp comes not even a week after the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction blasted the company for performing “unsatisfactory” construction work at an Afghan Army base in Kunduz. The base was “at risk of structural failure” when the watchdogs initially inspected, but the Army Corps of Engineers chose to settle DynCorp’s contract, a move that awarded the company “$70.8 million on the construction contracts and releas[ed] it from any further liabilities and warranty obligation.” (.pdf)
A DynCorp spokeswoman, Ashley Burke, told Bloomberg News that the company disputed the special inspector general’s findings. For its part, the special inspector general took to tweeting photographs of what it called “DynCorp’s failed work at #Afghan #Army Base in #Kunduz.
SIGAR Audit 13-1 October 31, 2012
Afghanistan National Security Forces Facilities:
Concerns with Funding, Oversight and Sustainability for Operation and Maintenance
WHAT SIGAR FOUND
The Afghan government will likely be incapable of fully sustaining ANSF facilities after the transition in 2014 and the expected decrease in U.S. and coalition support. The Afghan government’s challenges in assuming O&M responsibilities include a lack of sufficient numbers and quality of personnel, as well as undeveloped budgeting, procurement, and logistics systems.
As of June 1, 2012, the Afghan government had filled less than40 percent of authorized O&M positions. U.S. officials cited salary discrepancies between these ANSF positions and private sector jobs, such as contract positions, as a prime factor in the lagging recruitment efforts.
The ANSF lacks personnel with the technical skills required to operate and maintain critical facilities, such as water supply, waste water treatment, and power generation.
The Ministry of Defense’s procurement process is unable to provide the Afghan army with O&M supplies in a timely manner.
The Ministry of Interior did not make its first budget allocation for O&M at police sites until March 2012.
As of August 1, 2012, 25 sites had started the transition process. However, USACE had not yet developed a plan and procedures
Dan Froomkin Huffington Post April 30, 2012
WASHINGTON — Afghan reconstruction efforts remain severely hampered even after nearly $100 billion in spending over the last 10 years, according to a new watchdog report. The most immediate challenge seems to stem from the insistence by Afghanistan’s government that the private army of hired guns providing security for ongoing projects be replaced with Afghan locals, who do not appear to be up to the job, the report noted.
The report’s most urgent warning concerns the “imminent transition” from private security contractors (PSC) to the state-owned Afghan Public Protection Force.
Steven J. Trent, the acting special inspector general, expressed concerns that as many as 29 major USAID projects costing nearly $1.5 billion are at risk of full or partial termination “if the APPF cannot provide the needed security.” About half that amount has already been spent.
And whether it can is very much an open question, Trent wrote. The U.S. embassy, the Afghan government and the U.S.-led military forces agreed a year ago to check the progress of the Afghan Public Protection Force at the 6-, 9-, and 12-month marks.
“The 6-month assessment, completed in September 2011, found that the APPF was not ready to assume any of the essential PSC responsibilities to meet contract requirements — such as training, equipping, and deploying guard forces,” the report pointed out. “[T]he December assessment, which would have been at the 9-month mark, has not yet been made public” and “the deadline for the 12-month assessment has passed.”
Quarterly Report to the US Congress
April 30, 2012
An alarming story of greed, negligence, and a lack of government oversight
Starring the DBA Insurance company that most ruthlessly denies the medical care and benefits to Injured Contractors and the Widows and families of those who are killed.
July 28, 2011
So this $58.5 million was overcharged in a very small portion of the DBA business that CNA carries.
Basically CNA overcharged, didn’t reimburse USACE and contractors for labor charges that turned out not to be justified, did not have proper paperwork in place and accounting procedures to allow DCAA to be able to look at their books and determine who was owed what.
CNA also commingled funds meant to be segregated for different contracts, lumping them all into one account.
The workers’ compensation program is so riddled with problems as a result of using a third-party insurer that the inspector general’s office suggests it may be worthwhile to dump the insurer altogether, the audit reads.
More to come
Limited Interagency Coordination and Insufficient Controls over U.S. Funds in Afghanistan Hamper U.S. Efforts to Develop the Afghan Financial Sector and Safeguard US Cash
What SIGAR Reviewed
Since 2002, Congress has appropriated more than $70 billion to implement security and development assistance
projects in Afghanistan, with some of those funds converted into cash and flowing through the Afghan economy. The
United States is implementing programs to increase the capacity of Afghanistan’s central bank (Da Afghanistan Bank, or
DAB) to regulate the nation’s 17 commercial banks and to strengthen U.S. and Afghan law enforcement agencies’
oversight over the flow of funds through the Afghan economy. This report (1) evaluates U.S. efforts to improve the
capacity of the Afghan government to regulate the financial sector (which includes commercial banks and informal
financial organizations, or hawalas) and (2) assesses the controls that U.S. agencies use to track U.S. funds as they flow
through the Afghan economy. To accomplish these objectives, we reviewed Afghan laws and U.S. policies, plans, and
progress reports relevant to U.S. financial sector development initiatives. We met with officials from the Departments
of State, Homeland Security (DHS), Treasury, Defense (DOD), and the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID). We conducted our work in Washington, D.C., and Kabul, Afghanistan, from October 2010 to July 2011 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction Quarterly Report to the US Congress Jan 30, 2011
SIGARS Audits this quarter found that critical reconstruction programs are at risk because of poor planning, insufficient oversight, and the inability of the Afghan authorities to sustain them. These Audits examinded Department of Defense (DoD) plans to build and sustain facilities for the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and 69 projects funded through the Commanders Emergency Response Program (CERP) inLaghman Province
SIGAR CONTRACT AUDIT SHOWS $49.2 MILLION AT RISK OF WASTE
January 27, 2011 – The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), Arnold Fields, today released an audit report that identifies $49.2 million of U.S. reconstruction funds in Afghanistan at serious risk of waste. Special IG Fields said, “Sustainability is the key. If the U.S. government continues to spend millions of dollars on projects the Afghans are unable to sustain when we turn them over, then our investment will have been wasted.”
The audit SIGAR released today focuses on contract performance and oversight of 69 projects in Afghanistan’s Laghman Province. The 69 reconstruction projects cost more than $53 million and are all funded through the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP). The 69 projects audited include 24 active, 42 completed, and 3 terminated projects
Since 2004, Congress has appropriated nearly $2.64 billion for CERP projects in Afghanistan. CERP enables commanders to fund humanitarian relief and reconstruction projects to immediately assist the local population.
The Commission on Wartime Contracting held a hearing to examine the spending of U.S. tax dollars an Afghanistan, and the extent that contractors are being supervised. Arnold Fields, the U.S. official in charge of running the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, in his testimony said that bad planning is the chief reason for cost overruns in the country’s reconstruction efforts
Washington (CNN) — Billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars spent to train, equip and support Afghanistan security forces may end up wasted, according to the watchdog of reconstruction spending.
The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, retired Marine Gen. Arnold Fields, in what may be his final public event before he retires next month, painted a starkly pessimistic picture of what lies ahead in Afghanistan.
The build-up of the Afghanistan army and police is a key element in the Obama administration’s plans to withdraw U.S. forces by the end of 2014. But Fields told the Commission on Wartime Contracting that the build-up is at risk.
“The United States lacks a comprehensive plan for building ANA (Afghan National Army) and ANP (Afghan National Police) facilities,” Fields said. “The projects audited to date have been seriously behind schedule.”
And Fields said it is not clear how Afghanistan will be able to sustain the big police and army building projects — such as barracks and training bases — once U.S. Forces withdraw.
“These issues place the entire U.S. investment of $11.4 billion in ANSF (Afghan National Security Forces) facilities construction at risk of not meeting Afghan needs or intended purposes and resulting in a large degree of waste,” Fields said in his prepared statement to the commission.
Members of Congress repeatedly have criticized Fields for not being more aggressive in watching over the more than $56 billion in Afghanistan reconstruction. He has said it took time to establish his watchdog agency in 2008 and oversight in a war zone is difficult and dangerous.
Fields admitted that American taxpayers are “wary” of the U.S. investment in Afghanistan.
He said the U.S. plan calls for 884 projects for Afghanistan army and police to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2012. But Fields said only 133 are completed, 78 are under construction and 673 have not been started. Please see the original here
WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 (UPI) — After no less than 10 quarterly reports to Congress, 40 percent of $56 billion — $22.4 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds — allocated to civilian projects in Afghanistan cannot be accounted for by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.
The original amount for civilian aid is now being increased to $71 billion.
Corruption and outright theft are rampant in the projects SIGAR supposedly inspects but SIGAR’s top cop, retired U.S. Marine Maj. Gen. Arnold Fields, kept coming up empty handed as he labored to protect his 150-person organization (32 of them stationed in Afghanistan, most of whom don’t speak any local language).
SIGAR employs 50 auditors, many of them “double-dippers,” who collect both government pensions and six-figure salaries, but none of them ever conducted required forensic or contract audits. More than 100 cases of corruption — both U.S. contractors and Afghan subcontractors — were ignored. U.S. Government Accounting Office auditors look at programs but are not shown the uncompleted completion.
U.S. Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., led a team of Senate investigators that spent two years looking into what became the SIGAR scandal.
Arnold Fields, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, offered no explanation for his decision to leave. His resignation becomes official at the beginning of next month.
“I depart confident in the knowledge that SIGAR is positioned to provide essential support to the president’s strategy,” he said.
Fields’ resignation leaves vacant a key post in the Obama administration’s push for bringing greater accountability to U.S. contracting in Afghanistan.
McClatchy reported in November that over the past three years, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction projects in Afghanistan have failed, face serious delays or resulted in subpar work, costing American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars and hobbling U.S. efforts to stabilize the country.
Four senators accused Fields’ office of doing a poor job of scrutinizing how $56 billion in reconstruction money is being spent in the war-torn nation. The senators demanded Fields’ resignation in a letter to President Barack Obama late last year.
Last week, Fields fired two of his deputies partly in response to the congressional criticism. However, Fields, a retired Marine Corps major general, told McClatchy, he had no plans to resign saying: “The Marine Corps taught me not to quit.”
But a report by the federal Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency had fueled the calls for his resignation. The council recommended that the Justice Department consider revoking the special inspector general’s law enforcement authority and concluded his office had problems with hiring, strategic planning and investigative policies.
The U.S. official assigned to combat corruption in the multibillion-dollar effort to rebuild Afghanistan, who has been criticized by lawmakers for incompetence and mismanagement, fired two top deputies Tuesday and pledged to focus on financial fraud and waste.
Arnold Fields, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said that the organization’s upper ranks needed “new blood,” and he rejected the idea that the changes were made to keep him from being fired.
“This is about making SIGAR a better organization,” he said, using the shorthand name for his office.
Last fall, key members of Congress urged President Obama to dismiss Fields. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who chaired the contracting oversight subcommittee, joined GOP Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.), Charles E. Grassley (Iowa) and Susan Collins (Maine) in calling SIGAR a “failing organization” in need of new leadership.
The senators said that Fields’s office has failed to aggressively oversee the $56 billion the United States has committed since 2002 to improving schools, roads, electricity and medical facilities in Afghanistan.
Fields said he removed John Brummet, the assistant inspector general for audits, and Raymond DiNunzio, the assistant inspector general for investigations. Their deputies will serve in acting capacities while Fields searches for replacements. DiNunzio will remain with the organization for 60 to 90 days as an adviser, Fields said. Brummet might also stay on for a limited period in a different capacity, Fields said.