WASHINGTON – Following a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction finding that the Department of Defense (DoD) spent up to $28 million on uniforms with a “forest” pattern despite the fact that forests cover only 2.1 percent of Afghanistan’s total land area, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is calling for answers on what went wrong.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) recently released a report detailing DoD’s procurement of camouflage uniforms for the Afghanistan National Army. SIGAR concluded that the government failed to properly perform its due diligence when selecting a camouflage pattern, failed to determine whether the selected pattern was effective in the Afghan environment, improperly recommended that the U.S. pursue a sole-source award to the company that owned the proprietary camouflage license and uniform design, and failed to exercise effective oversight of the program to purchase the uniforms. Because of the proprietary pattern and uniform specifications, these uniforms cost roughly 40 percent more than comparable uniforms provided to the Afghan Border Police, Afghan Uniform Police, and the Afghan Local Police.
“This is a contracting decision that makes you smack your head in frustration,” said McCaskill, a former Missouri State Auditor. “It’s a prime example of wasting hard-earned taxpayer dollars—and we’ve got to get to the bottom of how this happened.”
The request from McCaskill to Robert Karem, Acting Under Secretary for Policy at the Department of Defense, also raises concerns about whether the uniform contract violated federal procurement law.
“DoD was unable to provide SIGAR with documentation demonstrating that the chosen camouflage specification was essential to the U.S. government’s requirement for the uniforms, market research indicating that other companies’ similar products were inadequate to meet DoD’s requirements, or documentation justifying or approving the chosen camouflage requirement in the ANA uniform specification. These failures raise the question of whether or not DoD properly abided by federal procurement law,” McCaskill’s letter reads.
McCaskill is a leading voice in the Senate for saving taxpayer dollars through contracting reform and oversight. McCaskill waged a successful six-year effort to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse in wartime contracting. She has repeatedly raised concerns about contractor Jorge Scientific/Imperatis following the company’s misconduct in Afghanistan; federal agencies ignored those concerns and re-hired the firm, which then defaulted on a major IT contract. Last year, McCaskill called for answers on why the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Bureau of Prisons hired a contractor, Glocoms, despite its history of poor contract performance. McCaskill has also successfully expanded protections for whistleblowers—who ?help to identify waste, fraud, and abuse—to government contractors, subcontractors, and others who the federal government directly or indirectly hires through bipartisan bills that have been signed into law.
Read McCaskill’s letter to Karem HERE.