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When We Wonder About Afghan Corruption

Posted by Newshoggers.com on October 28th, 2010

From our partners at Newshoggers.com

By Steve Hynd

Let's try to remember that creating a situation where pots of cash are washing about with no accountability, no oversight and no record-keeping is always going to create a culture of corruption.

The US government has spent about $55bn on rebuilding in Afghanistan since 2001 but cannot easily show how the money was spent, a government watchdog says.

The special inspector general's office for Afghanistan reconstruction talked of a "confusing labyrinth" of spending.

It said some 7,000 contractors received $17.7bn from 2007-09 but data prior to 2007 was too poor to be analysed.

…The Pentagon, state department and USAID "are unable to readily report on how much money they spend on contracting for reconstruction activities in Afghanistan", said the report from the special inspector general's office, which was set up by Congress.

…Pentagon contracts worth $11.5bn for construction, supplies and logistics in Afghanistan went to more than 6,615 contractors between 2007 and 2009, the audit found. Half of that money went to just 41 contractors.

USAID spent $3.8bn during that time and the state department $2.4bn.

"The audit shows that navigating the confusing labyrinth of government contracting is difficult, at best," according to the watchdog.

It said there had been little co-ordination within and between US government agencies. The three agencies mentioned above, for example, do not separate their spending in Afghanistan from other US-funded projects around the world.

"If we don't even know who we're giving money to, it is nearly impossible to conduct systemwide oversight," the inspector general, Arnold Fields, said.

It was only during the Summer that a bi-partisan group of four Senators was calling loudly for the inspector general's head, alleging " a lack of competent senior leadership in this agency". The Senators seem to have a point, looking at their evidence, particularly when it comes to Fields' hiring of a former inspector already under a cloud for incompetence and misleading Congress as a contractor.

So we've a situation where the agencies spending your taxpayer dollars in Afghanistan have no idea where the money is going and the folk who are supposed to keep an eye on them are too incompetent to do so properly. Meanwhile, most of that money is dropping into the pockets of folk like DynCorp. Lovely.

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  1. deciminyan says:

    Did someone end the wars and forget to tell me?
    http://goo.gl/O4lZ

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