WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is raising concerns over the possibility that this year’s annual defense bill could limit the oversight work of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, which has played a critical role in identifying waste and fraud in U.S. government-funded projects in Afghanistan.
“This office has identified billions of dollars of government waste, fraud, or abuse,” McCaskill said. “It has been an important partner in my efforts to protect taxpayer dollars, and I’m committed to ensuring nothing gets in the way of its critical work.”
This year’s annual defense bill requires the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction to use specific auditing guidelines for its work overseeing the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund, but much of the Office’s work includes non-audit products such as Quarterly Reports to Congress. McCaskill had filed an amendment to strike the provision, but it was not accepted. She encouraged Special Inspector General John Spoko to come forward if the new provision limits his efforts. “The work SIGAR does is vital to identifying waste, fraud and abuse to ensure taxpayer dollars are well spent and it is essential that SIGAR’s work continue unfettered,” McCaskill wrote. “If at any time your office feels that the integrity of its oversight is endangered due to the new requirements in the [annual defense bill], please alert me.”
Information from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction has extensively informed McCaskill’s efforts to target waste, fraud, and abuse. Just this year, McCaskill demanded answers after the Office’s report found that six projects in Afghanistan costing almost $400 million are at risk of failure and after another of the Office’s reports found that the Department of Defense 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. McCaskill has repeatedly raised concerns over Jorge Scientific/Imperatis contracts following the Office’s investigations into the contractor. Most recently, McCaskill blew the whistle on a Jorge Scientific/Imperatis subcontract that billed over $50 million in questionable costs to the Army.
Read McCaskill’s letter to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction HERE.