A Democratic senator is pressing for an audit of the Pentagon after a task force spent $43 million to build a compressed natural gas station in Afghanistan.
“As one of the sponsors of the Audit the Pentagon Act of 2015, I also feel compelled to tell you that this filling station appears to be exactly the type of unacceptable boondoggle that our legislation aims to prevent,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
The bill, which was introduced in February, would impose penalties on the Pentagon if the department fails meet a legally mandated goal of being fully auditable by September 2017. The Government Accountability Office already audits the Pentagon but has said it does not have accurate data.
Wyden joins a growing list of lawmakers slamming the Afghanistan gas station and calling for deeper probes into the Pentagon’s spending because of it.
At issue is a Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report released earlier this month that found a Task Force for Stability and Business Operations project to build a natural gas station cost 140-times more than it should have.
In light of the report, Wyden said he wants an update on the Pentagon’s audibility efforts, including its best estimate on when it will be audit-ready.
Wyden also echoed his colleagues’ concern over the special inspector general’s difficulty in investigating the gas station. The Pentagon told the special inspector that documents and personnel that could answer questions weren’t available since the task force disbanded in March.
“The report’s most disturbing findings, however, concern the DOD’s behavior,” Wyden wrote. “According to SIGAR, DOD claims that nobody remains at the department with knowledge of the task force. That is a baffling claim given that the task force was dissolved less than a year ago.”