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QUARTERLY REPORT TO THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS

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MateenK View Drop Down
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    Posted: 13-Mar-2017 at 2:30am

QUARTERLY REPORT TO THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS

 

I am pleased to submit to Congress, and the Secretaries of State and Defense, SIGAR’s 34th quarterly report on the status of the U.S. reconstruction effort in Afghanistan.

With a new Administration and Congress taking office, this is a prime opportunity to reflect on the U.S. investment in Afghanistan. Since 2002, Congress has appropriated more than $117 billion for Afghanistan’s reconstruction. It is the largest expenditure to rebuild a country in our nation’s history. This tremendous amount of taxpayer money has been used to train Afghan security forces, stand up the Afghan government, provide health care and education to the Afghan people, and develop the Afghan economy. U.S. and international donors recently pledged to continue supporting Afghanistan through 2020, with our contribution expected to remain at or near current levels of about $5 billion per year.

Congress established the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) in 2008 to detect and prevent the waste, fraud, and abuse of the unprecedented U.S. funds being poured into Afghanistan. Since that time, SIGAR has issued 410 audits, inspections, alert letters, and other products—ncluding over 700 recommendations—hat identified roughly $1 billion in potential savings to U.S. taxpayers. In addition, our criminal investigators have conducted 960 investigations, resulting in 104 arrests, 142 criminal charges, 107 convictions or guilty pleas, and 99 sentencings, and achieving over $1 billion in U.S. government cost savings, fines, recoveries, and restitutions.

The body of SIGAR’s work shows that reconstruction remains tenuous and incomplete.
The Afghan security forces need continued donor support, plus mentoring and limited tactical support from the U.S. military, to block insurgent advances. Likewise, the Afghan government cannot survive without continued donor financial assistance.
This quarter, SIGAR issued an updated High-Risk List outlining the most critical issues threatening reconstruction. Of the eight issues identified, the two most critical are the questionable capabilities of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) and pervasive corruption. If these two risk areas are not addressed, I fear that our reconstruction efforts could ultimately fail, to the detriment of our national-security goals
in Afghanistan.
This quarterly report also points out some of the successes of our struggle to rebuild Afghanistan. For example, the essay in Section 1 of this report examines the issue of national procurement reform in Afghanistan, an area that the civil-society organization Transparency International calls “a bright spot” in the country’s fight against corruption.
Since 2015, SIGAR has supported the Afghan National Unity Government’s efforts to create a national procurement organization to reform procurement for all 64 ministries and procurement entities across Afghanistan. So far, these efforts have resulted in at least $200 million in savings that might have been lost to corruption. SIGAR is the only U.S. civilian agency invited to observe the weekly sessions of President Ashraf Ghani’s National Procurement Commission, in which President Ghani personally reviews all major Afghan government procurement and construction contracts.
 
This quarter, SIGAR issued 13 audits, inspections, alert letters, and other products, including an audit alert letter in response to a congressional inquiry about the Department of Defense’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations’ use of private villas in Afghanistan. SIGAR also published a performance audit report that examined the accuracy of data the U. S. Agency for International Development used to report progress in
Afghanistan’s health-care sector.
SIGAR completed three financial audits of U.S.-funded contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements to rebuild Afghanistan. These financial audits identified more than $2.4 million in questioned costs as a result of internal-control deficiencies and noncompliance issues.
To date, SIGAR’s financial audits have identified nearly $380 million in questioned costs. SIGAR also published a follow-up inspection report examining the Sheberghan teacher training facility and SIGAR’s Office of Special Projects issued six products, expressing concern on a range of issues, including the abandonment of a large Overseas Private Investment Corporation-funded hotel and apartment building construction project in Kabul and a U.S. Embassy Kabul grantee’s unsuccessful efforts to increase Afghan women’s participation in the sport of cricket. Special Project products also included observations from site visits to 25 USAID-funded schools in Herat Province and site inspections of 30 USAID supported health facilities in Baghlan Province.
During the reporting period, SIGAR criminal investigations resulted in one conviction and six sentencings; nearly $2 million in criminal fines and restitutions; a recovery of $320,000 from a civil settlement; and the termination of a $99 million, improperly awarded, sole-source contract. SIGAR initiated 18 new investigations and closed 13, bringing the total number of ongoing investigations to 259.
SIGAR’s suspension and debarment program referred six parties for suspension or debarment based on evidence developed as part of investigations conducted by SIGAR in Afghanistan and the United States. These referrals bring the total number of individuals and companies referred by SIGAR since 2008 to 809, encompassing 453 individuals and 356 companies to date.
SIGAR remains committed to its reconstruction oversight mission. My staff and I look forward to working together with the new Administration and Congress to ensure that American taxpayer dollars are spent wisely in Afghanistan.
 


Edited by MateenK - 13-Mar-2017 at 2:44am
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