WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is demanding answers after a recent report found rampant waste in a now-shuttered Defense Department program that obligated over $675 million to assist with Afghanistan economic projects. Many of its 19 projects were fully paid for despite not being completed, and of the $316.3 million directly spent on contracts, 78 percent failed to meet the requirements or only partially met them.
“As a leader of the Senate’s top watchdog committee, Missourians expect me to target wasteful government spending in the federal government wherever I see it—and I’m committed to doing exactly that,” said McCaskill, a former Missouri State Auditor. “I’m determined to get answers on what the Defense Department will do about this mess and what steps it’ll take to better protect Missourians’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars going forward.”
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) report identified systemic problems with the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, which from 2010 to 2014 assisted with projects in Afghanistan to support the local economy. “The failures described in SIGAR’s report and the lack of accountability are simply unacceptable,” McCaskill wrote to the Defense Department Under Secretary overseeing the program. The report included examples of waste such as $51 million spent on experts to help the Afghan government award large-scale mining contracts—even though no contracts were ever awarded.
McCaskill is demanding answers on what the Defense Department will do to hold accountable individuals or companies responsible for the problems and what if anything the agency is doing to fix failed or deteriorated projects. She also requested details on what the Defense Department will do change its policies to avoid similar waste in the future.
McCaskill has led efforts to eliminate wasteful U.S. government spending overseas since joining the Senate. McCaskill is demanding answers after a SIGAR report found that six projects in Afghanistan costing almost $400 million are at risk of failure. She also called for answers after a report showed that the State Department routinely paid a contractor to oversee foreign assistance programs in Iraq without properly verifying the contractor’s claimed costs and expenses. During her first term in the Senate, McCaskill waged a successful six-year battle to rein in wasteful wartime contracting practices in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Read McCaskill’s letter to the Defense Department HERE.