Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

SIGAR CONTRACT AUDIT SHOWS $49.2 MILLION AT RISK OF WASTE

PRESS RELEASE:
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.

Please read the entire report here

January 27, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Government Contractor, Pentagon, SIGAR | , , , | Leave a comment

Afghan Construction Projects Arnold Fields Testimony CSpan

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

Transcript and Video here

January 24, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Pentagon, SIGAR, Wartime Contracting | , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. watchdog warns billions invested in Afghan security at risk

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

January 24, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Government Contractor, SIGAR, Wartime Contracting | , , , | Leave a comment

Close but no SIGAR

Commentary: Arnaud de Borchgrave

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.

Please read the entire commentary at UPI

January 14, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, SIGAR | , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. watchdog for Afghanistan contracting resigns

McClatchy Newspapers by Marisa Taylor

WASHINGTON — The embattled top watchdog of U.S. contracting in Afghanistan announced Monday that he’s resigning days after vowing to resist congressional demands to step down.

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.

Please read the entire story here

January 10, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contingency Contracing, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Pentagon, SIGAR, USACE | , , , | Leave a comment

John Brummet, Raymond DeNunzio fired from SIGAR

2 deputies fired from Afghan watchdog group

by the Associated Press at the Washington Post

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.

Please see the original here See also Post at MsSparky

January 5, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, SIGAR | , , , , | 2 Comments

Embattled IG for Afghan war to testify

By Josh Boak Thursday,    November 18, 2010    Washington Post Staff Writer

 

The mission to uncover waste and fraud in the billions of dollars spent rebuilding Afghanistan has become entangled in a campaign to fire the lead U.S. official tracking the money.

A bipartisan group of senators has asked the president to remove Arnold Fields as head of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, after a negative review this summer put his agency’s law enforcement status at riskprompted the Justice Department to consider suspending the agency’s law enforcement powers.

Critics question the quality of reports by the agency, which goes by the acronym SIGAR. They note that in some instances it duplicated the work of other agencies, or that it veered beyond its mandate to look instead at the participation of women in Afghan elections.

“My examination of Mr. Fields’s record is that he would best serve his country by stepping aside from this particular job,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairman of the subcommittee on contracting oversight before which Fields will testify Thursday.

Fields said the two-year-old agency is at a pivotal point. It has completed 34 audits and has 81 ongoing investigations of contracts totaling $6.1 billion. And because most contractor personnel are Afghans, SIGAR is in the process of partnering with Afghan investigators to pursue criminal charges in that country’s judicial system.

Fields, a retired Marine general who has led SIGAR since its formation, said he hoped McCaskill’s hearing would not resemble a trial. “Any reasonable person would say that these matters have been a distraction,” he said. “The depth and breadth of criticism by which this organization has been characterized is unprecedented.”

Please read the entire article here

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Wartime Contracting | , , , | Leave a comment