LESSONS LEARNED: Controlling Wasteful Spending in Iraq, Afghanistan

July 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm 3 comments

Catching White Elephants

Can't give it away.

Can’t give it away.

By now you’ve probably heard or read about the $34 million military headquarters building at Camp Leatherneck in southern Afghanistan that probably won’t ever be used by U.S. troops.

But maintaining the 64,000-square foot, air conditioned windowless building – equipped with modern office space, work stations and an auditorium — is probably too expensive for the Afghans to handle so the brand new building may be demolished by departing U.S. forces.

But wait, there’s more. Less than four months after the Army asked Congress to fund the huge command center, the local Marine Corps commander said it wasn’t needed and made a request – in May 2010 – to cancel the project. In February 2011, however, the Air Force issued a construction contract to build the facility, which Uncle Sam took possession of in November 2012, according to the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). SIGAR is a government agency created by Congress to prevent and detect waste, fraud and abuse in Afghanistan reconstruction programs.

The unused $34 million headquarters building in Afghanistan. Photo courtesy of SIGAR)

The unused $34 million headquarters building in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy of SIGAR)

“Based on these preliminary findings, I am deeply troubled that the military may have spent taxpayer funds on a construction project that should have been stopped,” Special Inspector General John Sopko, wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; the commander of U.S. Central Command – which includes Afghanistan; and the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan.

Sopko said he was also troubled by the options of either “destroying a never-occupied, never-used building or turning over what may be a ‘white elephant’ to the Afghan government that it may not have the capacity to sustain.” You can read his letter here.

Meanwhile, another special inspector general for reconstruction – this time in Iraq – has a recommendation to avoid future money-wasting boondoggles. In testimony before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Tuesday (July 9) Stuart Bowen Jr., urged creation of a U.S. Office for Contingency Operations (USOCO) to concentrate authority over relief and reconstruction efforts into a single office that would report to both the secretaries of Defense and State – as well as the president’s National Security Advisor.

Now there is no executive branch department with the primary responsibility for carrying out relief and reconstruction activities, Bowen said, noting that Congress has appropriated $60 billion for Iraq’s reconstruction over the last 10 years and his office has recovered more than $200 million through waste and fraud investigations. Instead of a single office, the stabilization operations are just add-ons to the work already being done by the departments of State, Defense, Justice and Treasury, as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

“Current geopolitical events make the need for a reform like USOCO quite compelling,” Bowen said in written testimony for the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee, adding “a number of fragile states, including Syria, could soon require integrated stabilization and reconstruction assistance.”

A bill that would create USOCO and assure that the government is preparing for the next stabilization and reconstruction operation ahead of time has been introduced in the House by Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas).

About these ads

Entry filed under: Afghanistan, Iraq, Lessons Learned, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Washington. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

FRIDAY FOTO (July 5, 2013) AROUND AFRICA: China-Nigeria Deal, Obama-Africa, Food Security,

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. The Navy's Grade 36 Bureaucrat  |  July 12, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    And yet we can’t find money to invest in Africa, so China and others attain more influence. Wonderful.

    Reply
    • 2. John M. Doyle  |  July 14, 2013 at 11:50 am

      One more legacy from going to war in Iraq without a well-thought out game plan and end-game strategy.

      Reply
  • 3. aaron  |  July 20, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Good Website. You should think a little more about RSS Feeds as being a traffic supply. They bring us a nice little bit of traffic

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Calendar

July 2013
M T W T F S S
« Jun   Aug »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Most Recent Posts


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 342 other followers

%d bloggers like this: