On the heels of a scathing report documenting exorbitant waste and fraud in the U.S. government’s Iraq reconstruction program, a new federal audit reveals that nearly half a billion dollars in oil destined for the Afghan National Army has vanished.
How do you lose $475 million worth of oil? That is the question posed to the Department of Defense (DOD) by the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). It will likely never be answered because the DOD has improperly shredded records that could solve the mystery, according to the SIGAR. Those that were spared from the shredder are so poorly kept that little can be made of them.
Here is what the special Afghan reconstruction watchdog concludes in a report issued earlier this month; that the DOD agency in charge of tracking the lost oil “does not have accurate or supportable information on how much U.S. funds are needed for [Army] fuel, where and how the fuel is actually used, or how much fuel has been lost or stolen.”
Run out of Kabul, the Afghan fuel program has received north of $1 billion since 2007 and most of the cash has been provided by Uncle Sam. In 2012 alone $429 million went to the program and by 2014 funding is scheduled to be raised to a whopping $555 million, the SIGAR reveals. At the very least the investigator general suggests freezing current funding levels until the Pentagon makes improvements in its inept accounting and fuel-tracking system.
The DOD has promised to implement a new fuel database and to track invoices better, though the improper destruction of records was not addressed. This is a big joke considering the ongoing and well-documented corruption that has plagued the U.S. reconstruction effort in Afghanistan. Just a few months ago, in its quarterly report to Congress, SIGAR warns about stolen money and fuel, writing that “corruption remains a major threat to the reconstruction effort.”
Iraq is a similar story. Audit after audit has exposed that America’s costly Iraq reconstruction projects are rife with waste, fraud and abuse. The spending is so out of control, that the government has lost track of a large portion of the money, according to the special watchdog assigned to keep track of the never-ending scandal, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).
In its latest audit over the summer, the SIGIR reveals that at least $6 to $8 billion, earmarked for Iraq reconstruction, has been lost to fraud and waste. In all, Congress appropriated a whopping $51.4 billion to help the country recover from the war by, among other things, training local police, building schools, hospitals and transportation systems, but much of the money has literally vanished.
The funds were allocated to the DOD, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Tens of billions of dollars have been spent so far and there seems to be no end in sight to the rampant abuse of taxpayer money. There have been lucrative contracts that never got finished, weapons and sophisticated communication equipment that can’t be accounted for and an unused police housing camp with an Olympic-sized pool and lavish trailers, among other things.