BY JACQUELINE LEO
We’ve known from the start that a war in Afghanistan meant losing taxpayer money to corrupt officials.
- In March of 2013, TFT reported that the U.S. had spent nearly $100 billion to rebuild Afghanistan in the last decade, but our auditors could only account for 10 percent of that money.
- GAO finds that up to $360 million in US tax dollars ended up in Taliban hands—April 2013.
- Of course you can’t blame the Afghans for everything. In June, 2013, we learned that the Pentagon had no idea what 108,000 contractors were doing in Afghanistan. They vastly outnumbered American troops stationed there at the time at a cost over 6 years of about $160 billion.
- Add to these violations the additional insult of being slapped with $1 billion tax bill by the Afghan government in July of 2013 and you have a clear picture that the U.S. had become the ATM machine for a corrupt government.
Why, then, do we expect them to keep books and records as if they were complying with Sarbanes-Oxley?
The Inspector General of the DOD has a new bone to pick with the Afghan government. In a report released last Friday, it looks like no one knows what happened to yet another $3.3 billion, earmarked for the sustainment of the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF).
The IG lays it out this way:
Ministry of Finance (MOF) could not provide a current cash balance for direct contributions or account for currency gains of at least $110.4 million made on Afghanistan Security Forces Fund direct contributions.
- MOF could not provide support for $17.4 million and Ministry of Interior (MOI) could not support $9.9 million withheld from ANSF salaries.
- MOD and MOI controls over the payroll process were not adequate.
- MOI processed $40 million in payroll payments that appeared improper.
- MOD and MOI incorrectly charged $82.7 million of ASFF direct contribution funds.
The IG report also has recommendations—no doubt some that were cut and pasted from previous reports. Here are two:
- Include requirements in the commitment letters that Afghanistan Security Forces Fund direct contributions be accounted for in separate treasury accounts and provide the Combined Security Transition Command- Afghanistan the bank statements from the Ministry of Finance showing the cash balances.
- Coordinate with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to issue all Afghanistan Security Forces Fund direct contributions payments to the Afghanistan Ministry of Finance in Afghani.
We have a lot of evidence that DOD ignores IG reports, especially when the billions aren’t in double digits. It’s a little like a football coach looking the other way when one of the team’s star players slaps around his wife or girlfriend, or plays fast and loose steroids. (“They don’t know what it’s like on the field of play.”
Still, we’ve wasted lives, limbs, minds and money. Enough is enough.