Reconstruction Watchdog Pinpoints $2 Billion in Waste in Afghanistan
(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. government watchdog for Afghanistan’s reconstruction projects claims that $2 billion has been wasted just in the past three months.
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko reports that the list of abuses includes phony projects, contracts that were awarded improperly, construction jobs that ended abruptly and were abandoned and a lack of transparency to oversee projects.
Sopko, in charge of overseeing nearly $100 billion in contracts that are supposed to rebuild war-torn Afghanistan, cited one particularly egregious example of waste: a $34 million U.S. command headquarters built in Helmand Province that won’t be used.
While describing it to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel “as the best constructed building I have seen in my travels to Afghanistan,” Sopko lamented, “Unfortunately, it is unused, unoccupied, and presumably will never be used for its intended purpose.”
SIGAR reported earlier this week that the Defense Department awarded $32 million in contracts for thousands of anti-IED systems to protect U.S. soldiers from roadside bombs attacks.
However, Sopko says many were either improperly installed or not installed at all and two Afghan contractors have been charged with fraud and negligent homicide.
In a statement, the inspector general said, “We will find out if contracting officers did not do their job and if that proves to be true and Americans have died, we will hold those individuals responsible.”
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