DoD Can’t Account for $3.3B Given Directly to Afghan Security Forces

September 4, 2014 - 11:44 AM

 

Afghan security forces

Afghan security forces search the site of a suicide bombing by the Taliban targeting a NATO convoy in Kabul on Aug. 10, 2014. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) -- The Department of Defense (DoD) cannot verify whether $3.3 billion given to the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) was actually used as intended, according to an internal audit.

That's because the Afghan government lacks “the basic controls to provide reasonable assurance” that the funds were spent appropriately.

DoD is slated to give ANSF $13 billion more between 2015 and 2019 that also “may be subject to wasteful spending and abuse” due to the lack of “a transparent and accountable fiscal process,” according to the department’s inspector general.

In February of 2011, the agency known as Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan (CSTC-A) was authorized to give large sums of money directly to the ANSF to help it “develop ministerial capability and capacity in the areas of budget development and execution, payment of salaries, acquisition planning and procurement.”

However, the Afghani government has had  numerous problems accounting for how the money was spent.

For example, “the September, October, November, and December 2013 Afghan Local Police payrolls for Uruzgan province were all the same, including triplicate payments in December,” the IG noted, even though “the personnel statistics reports showed that Uruzgan province lost 66 Afghan Local Police during that same time.”

In another example of faulty management, the Afghan Ministry of Interior (MoI) and Ministry of Defense (MoD) spent  $82.7 million on unauthorized expenditures, such as land purchases and allowances to uniformed employees for earning special skills. The IG report also specifically identified 4,579 transactions totaling approximately $40 million that were potentially improper.

The inspector general also noted that the ministries could not even provide a cash balance for the Afghan Security Forces Fund  (ASFF) because the money was lumped in with a larger treasury, leaving the CSTC-A unable to verify that the DoD’s direct contributions to the fund were used for their original purposes.

The report also included instances in which the Afghan government refused to provide  documentation of how certain funds were used. For example, even after repeated requests the MoI could not confirm that it had processed $17.4 million taken from the paychecks of security personnel for pensions, nor could it show that pensioners had been paid, the report stated.

The Afghan government also failed to disclose how they had used the $110.4 million they gained by exchanging U.S. dollars into “afghanis,” after the local currency depreciated against the dollar by 11.6 percent. The  CSTC-A plans on making direct contributions in afghanis rather than dollars in the future.

The DoD inspector general also recommended reform of the Afghans' payroll system, which currently does not issue a pay receipt totalling the salary and any “incentive pay, applicable deductions, and benefits and other entitlements received.”

The Afghan ministries also often rely on the abuse-prone system of “trusted agents,” who deliver pay to officers stationed in remote locations instead of having the money deposited into a bank account. CSTC-A says it is working with the Ministries of Interior and Finance to change that.

“Why didn’t the DoD ensure Afghanistan had the ability to track the funds before giving them money?” CNSNews.com asked Defense Department spokesman Major Brad Avots.

Avots responded by saying that “working in a wartime environment such as Afghanistan brings with it many challenges, and we continually seek to improve our processes.

“We are exploring steps beyond the DoDIG recommendations that will clearly signal our commitment to protecting U.S. taxpayers' money and increase confidence of international partners in the Afghans' capabilities,” Avots added.