SHAHEEN: OVERSIGHT FINDINGS IN AFGHANISTAN RECONSTRUCTION REPORT REQUIRE ACTION

Latest Inspector General report shows persistent security threats and lapses in oversight

February 03, 2014

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) says the latest report to Congress from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) stresses the dire need for increased scrutiny and reforms for the ongoing U.S. reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. The report released this week raises concerns on possible oversight weaknesses and vulnerabilities of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance while noting the ongoing issue of the longstanding backlog of referrals on contractors with links to terrorist groups.

“American taxpayers have been paying for this effort for more than a decade, and it is entirely unacceptable for the tremendous investments the American people have made to be wasted or for our dollars to flow into the hands of terrorist groups,” Shaheen said. “As the U.S. engagement with Afghanistan draws to a close, our oversight and reconstruction efforts are as consequential as ever.”

Shaheen added, “It is overwhelmingly clear that the U.S. needs to increase scrutiny and appropriately reform our reconstruction efforts.”

Shaheen, who is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has led a bipartisan coalition calling on the Army to take swift action on the longstanding backlog of 43 referrals pending before the Army’s Suspension and Debarment Official that involve individuals or companies with ties to terrorist organizations including the Haqqani Network and Al Qaeda.  SIGAR’s latest report reiterates for the third straight time, the U.S. Army’s continued failure to suspend or debar the contractors.

Additionally, according to the new report, SIGAR investigations saved the U.S. government about $1.7 million in the most recent quarter and criminal fines brought $5.3 million back to the U.S. government.  Shaheen has consistently advocated to provide appropriate funding to SIGAR so that U.S. dollars are being used efficiently and effectively.