U.S. Blew $500K on ‘Melting’ Afghan Buildings
Policy + Politics

U.S. Blew $500K on ‘Melting’ Afghan Buildings


And now for your daily dose of outrage brought to you (yet again) by the federal watchdogs tasked with checking up on the government’s reconstruction mission in Afghanistan.

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) routinely publishes scathing reports that paint a disturbing picture of lax oversight and basically no accountability over the hundreds of millions of dollars in projects and programs intended to help rebuild the war torn country.

Earlier this week, for example, SIGAR dropped a report revealing that the Defense Department isn’t bothering to keep track of whether $300 million in annual funding for the Afghan National Police Force is ending up in the right hands.

Related: Pentagon Refuses to Verify $300M a Year in Afghanistan Spent Properly

SIGAR’s latest report reveals that the U.S. paid contractors nearly $500,000 to build a training facility that was so horribly constructed it started “melting” just four months after completion. Now, even more money will be needed to rebuild it.

Of course, $500,000 is a relatively miniscule sum — the U.S. has poured $104 billion (and counting) into Afghanistan reconstruction. Still, the project reveals a larger problem plaguing the entire effort — lax oversight over contractors resulting in wasted tax dollars.

According to the report, the government awarded a construction contract to Qesmatullah Nasrat Construction Company to build a training center for the Afghan Special Police. The center was supposed to replicate an Afghan village so the police could practice search and clearance exercises. It also was built to include a “dry” fire range — or a gun range without live ammo.

Related: 7 Threats to U.S. Rebuilding Efforts in Afghanistan

Unfortunately, the project didn’t exactly turn out as intended. Just four months after the company declared its work finished, the buildings began to fall apart. The facilities were in such bad shape that the auditors described them as “melting.”

The report says the contractors didn’t follow the contract’s requirements or official building standards. “As a result, water penetration caused its walls to begin disintegrating within four months,” the auditors said in the report.

SIGAR blamed the construction company for the shoddy workmanship and failure to follow the requirements, but it also had harsh words for the government, which failed to properly oversee the contractors.

The auditors recommend that the commander of the U.S. Central Command, the unit overseeing the project, recoup the money used to build the disastrous structures from the contractors. SIGAR also suggested that Central Command should identify all of the contract officers responsible for oversight of the facilities to figure out what happened and possibly

consider taking disciplinary action against them “for failing to provide adequate oversight.”

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