Harsh Inspector General Report Says 0 of 16 Afghan Agencies can be Trusted with U.S. Aid

Saturday, February 01, 2014
Afghan President Karzai and President Obama (AP photo)

Suspicions of corruption in Afghanistan’s government have lingered for years since the U.S. invaded the country 13 years ago and helped install President Hamid Karzai in power. But the latest report from a government watchdog characterizes the problem as being so bad that not a single Afghan agency can be trusted with American tax dollars.


The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has filed many bad reports on the U.S. effort to stabilize the country. But a new one (pdf) found damning information on U.S. funding provided to the Afghan government. It also accuses the U.S. State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) of attempting to keep that information Congress and the American people.


The report states that Afghan officials permitted two international auditing firms hired by the Obama administration— KPMG and Ernst & Young—to inspect their operations. Using information collected by those firms, SIGAR concluded not a single Afghan government agency—out of 16 in total—is trustworthy enough to spend U.S. tax money properly—meaning keep it from being wasted or stolen.


Examples cited include the Afghan Ministry of Public Health, which was supposed to receive $236.5 million. But the money was in danger of misappropriation “arising from payment of salaries in cash,” according to a USAID risk assessment cited by SIGAR.


Also, the Afghan Mines Ministry was suspected of paying “kickbacks and bribes” using American dollars from Washington.


SIGAR chief John F. Sopko said that the U.S. strategy of providing more direct financial assistance to the Afghan government is “the biggest gamble with taxpayer money that USAID has ever made.” At the same time, he acknowledged that those payments would likely continue no matter what problems were brought to light, according to The New York Times.


In taking to task the State Department and USAID over its failure to be forthright with Congress about the damning assessments made in the audits, the SIGAR report stated that U.S. officials adopted less than 10% of the precautions they could have taken to reduce the risk of aid money being lost to corrupt Afghan officials.


The Obama administration expressed displeasure with SIGAR’s report, saying its findings might make the already brittle relationship between Washington and Kabul even weaker.


USAID appeared to be dismissive of the report and claimed that no specific instances of fraud on the part of the Afghan government had been cited. The agency warned SIGAR in a letter that the report’s release would probably lead to “reduced cooperation from the Afghan government, and could undermine our ability to conduct proper oversight of direct assistance programs in the future.”


It also urged SIGAR to “not make this sensitive material available to the public.”


SIGAR disagreed, arguing the American public had a right to know how their tax dollars are being used in Afghanistan.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman


To Learn More:

U.S. Aid to Afghans Flows On Despite Warnings of Misuse (by Matthew Rosenberg and Azam Ahed, New York Times)

After Billions in U.S. Investment, Afghan Roads Are Falling Apart (by Kevin Sieff, Washington Post)

Direct Assistance: USAID Has Taken Positive Action to Assess Afghan Ministries’ Ability to Manage Donor Funds, but Concerns Remain (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) (pdf)

Inspector General Warns that with Opium Production Skyrocketing, Afghanistan Could become “a Narco-Criminal State” (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

U.S.-Led Military Unit in Afghanistan Lost $230 Million in Spare Parts, Then Spent $138 Million for More (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)



Kadir 9 years ago
Niall,What vehicle broke down the gates of the captiol building in Saigon at the end of the war? Come on.. first letter T .I know quite reasonably exactly what the term blitzkrieg means for a squid, and it happened in the 72 Offensive and the final offensive. At the tactical level Lightning War is a tactic, or more properly a set of techniques, for the coordination of infantry, armor and supporting arms in the offensive, and at the operational level of war, a set of tactics for the use of armor heavy formations as the lead element in the offensive, to rapidly overcome infantry in the defensive. Sort of (I am not a qualified practitioner).Poland was the first use, and the technique was refined by the Krauts, then adopted and refined by the Red Army and the US Army, British Army and toward the end of the war by the free french divisions fighting under US high command, each slightly differently for multiple reasons. The North Koreans used it in 1950.The last two invasions south by the PLAVN were run out of the Red Army textbook with Red Army equipment.With obvious adaptations for the TOE and etc etc etc of the opponent the ARVN. As called for in Mao's little red book. I know that's not the cronkite the public has been sold for forty years, but go do your homework see for yourself.Interestingly, the subsequent Red Vietnamese Viet Minh if you will overthrow of the Kymer Rouge, because the Cambodian genocide had turned even their evil stomachs, was closer to a classic airmobile offensive, using captured US equipment, with tactical adjustments made on the basis of insights gained from fighting airmobile units and the Kymer Rouge's vulnerabilities. Since there was no political opposition to this invasion of Cambodia, it was prosecuted with typical bloodyminded thoroughness to a successful (defeat of the Viet Minh) conclusion. Hardhearted and ruthless beats bloodthirsty and cruel every time. Giap was better at war than Westmoreland (the basic problem, for us.) and much better than Pol Pot.Now I'll shut up and let the Leavenworth grads lurking eddicate (yes my good man, I am misspelling deliberately) both of us, because they really know who shot John in the big one.But to return to my basic point, the US congress won the war decisively, for the enemy.

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