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Source : USAID
August 16, 2021
Author : Alex Bustillos
Here at Contractor News, we like to talk a lot about what we call the three C’s: contracting, construction, and corruption. Though we typically cover domestic issues, Afghanistan is a story that hits all three C’s.
With Afghanistan in the news due to its rapid collapse at the hands of the Taliban, we have decided to revisit some reporting from the New York Times in 2019, which stated that the United States spent $30 billion on reconstruction programs in Afghanistan, which excludes in this instance counternarcotics, training the Afghan military, economic development, and other things.
As the outlet reported, “American dollars went to build hospitals that treated no patients, to schools that taught no students (and sometimes never existed at all) and to military bases the Afghans found useless and later shuttered.”
As if that wasn’t damning enough, a July 2018 report by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, found “up to $15.5 billion in waste, fraud, and abuse, and failed whole-of-government reconstruction efforts,” although SIGAR’s definition of reconstruction is more broad than the one used in this instance by the New York Times. Additionally, SIGAR only studied projects from 2008 to 2017.
The report came in response to the Government Accountability Office’s request for information on waste, fraud, and abuse in the country.
Some highlights from that report: “a contractor had overbilled the US government by more than $129 million,” $12.8 million in equipment for Afghanistan’s national power utility purchased by the Department of Defense “was sitting unused in a storage facility controlled by the US Army Corp of Engineers,” and the United States Agency for International Development “paid a contractor the full allowable fee on a task order, despite the contractor’s failure to complete 26 of 34 required deliverables.”
As a result of their investigative work, SIGAR referred a whopping 883 companies and individuals “for suspension or debarment to prevent them from receiving US contracts.”
While the human toll in Afghanistan is immeasurable, we can more easily quantify the amount of money US taxpayers were forced to spend on construction in Afghanistan: $30 billion.