Two US government reports released on Monday raise serious concerns about the effectiveness of US taxpayer money in infrastructure projects in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), US government agencies that conduct audits and investigations and provide policy recommendations reported that if the agency’s recommendations on government spending had been taken into account, the potential savings in the past year alone could have reached $387 million.
According to the 182 page report on Afghanistan, the US has appropriated $89 billion for reconstruction. The number will hit $100 billion allocated for Afghanistan since 2002 if Congress approves President Obama’s new reconstruction fund.
The report suggests that much of $400 million allocated for investment in infrastructure in Afghanistan might have been wasted in “weaknesses in planning, coordination, and execution, raising sustainability concerns.”
The report also questions the effectiveness of USAID in the country, stating that the USAID is costly yet making slow progress.
According to USA Today, the Pentagon has disagreed with the findings of the Afghanistan report, describing it as “premature,” adding that it shows a lack of understanding of US counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.
In Iraq, the US has either appropriated or made available over $60 billion for relief and reconstruction since 2003. Almost 85% of $51.46 billion in funds have been provided through five funding agencies, two of which are currently inactive and whose funds have expired.
According to the Associated Press, auditors have found that over $ 200 million devoted for Iraqi police training have gone to waste.
Iraqi officials wanted to distance themselves from the Americans and thus from the US State Department’s Police Development Program in Iraq. The SIGIR report says that the State Department has reduced the size of the costly program in response to Iraqi “demands.”
SIGAR is also preparing another report on sustainability known as the “capstone report initiative,” which will be released later in the year.