AT NOMINATION HEARING, SHAHEEN CALLS FOR INCREASED OVERSIGHT OVER ASSISTANCE IN AFGHANISTAN

Voices Support for Crocker Nomination

June 08, 2011

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) continued her commitment to accountability regarding U.S. assistance to Afghanistan during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today, pushing for effective and coordinated oversight to ensure efficient use of civilian aid in Afghanistan. The committee considered the nomination of Ryan Crocker to serve as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, and Shaheen urged him to make oversight improvements a priority.

“American taxpayers deserve to have civilian aid in Afghanistan spent wisely and effectively. That means we have to focus on only funding reconstruction projects that are necessary, achievable, and sustainable,” said Shaheen, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee. “I have previously called for the Administration to take steps to ensure U.S. assistance in Afghanistan has proper oversight and advances American interests. While I support Ambassador Crocker’s nomination, I also ask that he refocus efforts on improving oversight of aid in the region.”

Shaheen questioned Crocker about a report released today by the committee, Evaluating U.S. Foreign Assistance to Afghanistan,” which contains a list of recommendations for the responsible use of U.S. aid in Afghanistan. The United States currently spends more on aid to Afghanistan than on aid to any other country. The report detailed a number of concerns, including a Government Accountability Office finding that six of the eight agricultural assistance programs funded by USAID failed to meet their annual targets.

As part of her ongoing efforts to eliminate government waste, Shaheen has actively called for closer oversight of assistance funds in Afghanistan.  In January 2011, Shaheen wrote to President Obama seeking a dramatic overhaul of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), following audits that found significant accounts of ineffectual spending in its Commanders' Emergency Response Program (CERP). In her January 2010 letter to Secretary Clinton, Shaheen pointed to the fact that $60 billion from over 50 different international donors had been pledged to Afghanistan efforts, requiring a strong civilian coordinator to guard against their misuse. 

At today’s hearing, Shaheen sought Crocker’s assessment of the effectiveness of the Administration’s efforts to address these concerns and also highlighted the importance of respecting women’s rights as the parties in Afghanistan seek reconciliation.

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