Pentagon Doesn’t Know What Happened to $1.3 Billion in Afghanistan

Pentagon Doesn’t Know What Happened to $1.3 Billion in Afghanistan

REuters/Abdul Qodus/Files
By Brianna Ehley, The Fiscal Times

The Pentagon isn’t able to tell federal auditors what happened to more than $1.3 billion in funds intended for construction projects in Afghanistan. 

The money was dispersed through a program established to speed up the rebuilding process in Afghanistan by giving money directly to military officers to build roads, bridges, dams and other projects to avoid the lengthy bureaucratic procurement process. 

But in the rush to spend and build, much of the money paid out by the Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) between 2004 and 2014 has gone unaccounted for, according to auditors who spent the last year trying to find it. 

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A new report released Friday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction says the Defense Department could only provide its office with documentation for $890 million, or roughly 40 percent, of the total $2.2 billion in funds. 

The auditors blamed the Pentagon’s financial and project management process for not sufficiently tracking spending, saying DoD’s system doesn’t contain enough data or comprehensive information relating to the actual costs of the projects. 

The auditors took the information the Pentagon did provide and divided it up into categories like education, health care, water and sanitation. Aside from transportation, the item that had the most expenses was labeled “unknown.”

 Humanitarian and Reconstructive Projects

U.S. Central Command responded to the inspector general’s findings, or lack thereof, by saying that some of the unaccounted for CERP funds had been shifted to other military needs. “Although the report is technically accurate, it did not discuss the counterinsurgency strategies in relationship to CERP,” the Central Command said.

In total, the U.S. has doled out about $3.7 billion through CERP funds, with $2.2 billion coming from the Defense Department. 

This is just the latest report from SIGAR highlighting the Pentagon’s problems keeping track of the enormous amount of money flowing into Afghanistan. Earlier reporting suggested the U.S. has lost some $100 billion in the reconstruction efforts. 

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