Federal Watchdog Saves Billions in Afghanistan
Policy + Politics

Federal Watchdog Saves Billions in Afghanistan

© Stringer Afghanistan / Reuter

Federal auditors tasked with keeping tabs on the U.S. reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan rarely have good news to report. 

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction or SIGAR releases scathing audits on an almost daily basis--flagging new and outrageous ways taxpayer dollars are being wasted or lost to fraud and abuse in the war-torn country. However, SIGAR’s latest report shows that the work the auditors are doing may be saving taxpayers billions of dollars. 

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

In every SIGAR report, the auditors include a list of recommendations for the agencies to take up in order to solve any oversight or inefficiencies problems. For example, last week, the auditors reported that the Pentagon’s lax oversight of its contractors led to nearly a half million wasted tax dollars spent to build a shoddy training center for Afghan police. 

Just four months after contractors built the center, the structures began “melting.” SIGAR recommended developing a strategy to keep better tabs on contractors and to penalize contractors who don’t follow contract requirements. 

In its latest report, SIGAR went back and reviewed all of the recommendations it has made to the Defense Department between 2008 through June 2014. It turns out the auditor’s suggestions did not fall on deaf ears. 

The DoD implemented more than 75 percent of SIGAR’s 209 recommendations over that time period, according to the report. 

Related: U.S. Blew $500k on ‘Melting’ Afghan Buildings 

The auditors said that about 105 of the recommendations were designed to improve DoD’s program, which builds and trains the Afghan National Security Forces. Just last week, SIGAR reported that the Pentagon wasn’t keeping sufficient track of the annual $300 million earmarked for the police payroll. The auditors recommended that DoD develop a better strategy to make sure the money isn’t ending up in the wrong hands. 

The rest of the recommendations, SIGAR said, were related to oversight issues with contractors, among other things. 

The auditors said that by listening to their recommendations, the DoD would be saving taxpayers billions. According to SIGAR, recommendations from just seven audits resulted in more than $1 billion in savings. 

“DOD’s implementation of these recommendations improved the accountability of U.S. funds spent on reconstruction activities in Afghanistan,” SIGAR said. 

Related: $100 Billion in Aid Squandered in Afghanistan 

Of course, the U.S. government is still losing billions of dollars a year to waste, fraud and abuse in Afghanistan—and there are still plenty of old SIGAR recommendations that the DoD has yet to fully close—or even address. And there are always new audits addressing new problems. Still, the auditors had a hopeful tone in their latest report—causing some to be optimistic (maybe.) 

“We are encouraged by DOD’s commitment to addressing our recommendations and will continue to review any support provided and close recommendations as appropriate,” the auditors said in the report. 

Taxpayers should cheer them on.

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