Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Records Missing On Afghan Army Fuel Costs

The American and NATO training missions in Afghanistan have told United States government investigators that more than four years of financial records covering about $475 million worth of fuel purchases for the Afghan National Army may have been shredded, raising concerns about potential fraud.

Additionally, the agency also says that American and NATO forces have no proper system in place for estimating the Afghan Army’s future fuel requirements, a critical point now because control over the budget on fuel spending is about to be increased and handed over from United States and NATO authority to the Afghan government.

The findings come out of a report to be published Monday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the government agency charged with accounting for how billions of dollars in American reconstruction funds are being spent.

Warning about the potential for theft and waste, the agency recommended that future fuel spending for Afghan forces, proposed to rise to about $555 million in 2014, should be reduced and frozen at 2012 levels, about $306 million annually, until proper methods for accountability and estimating the Afghan Army’s fuel requirements are established.

In a letter to Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and senior military officials including Gen. John R. Allen, the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the agency’s new inspector general, John F. Sopko, said he had opened an investigation into the apparent destruction of the documents covering payments from October 2006 to February 2011.

Officials in Afghanistan were also unable to supply records for a current audit covering the period March 2011 to March 2012, he said.

“The destruction of records and the unexplained failure to provide other records violate DOD and Department of the Army policies,” Mr. Sopko wrote in the letter.

The agency’s report on fuel purchases said the training missions’ methods for estimating finance requirements did not include “basic information such as the actual number and capacity of Afghan National Army storage locations, the inventories of vehicles and generators in active use, and fuel consumption at each A.N.A. location.”

A spokeswoman for the NATO and American commands responsible for equipping and training the Afghan security forces did not reject the inspector general’s findings, but said both commands would be looking into the agency’s conclusions and cooperating with its investigation.

The spokeswoman, Lt. Lenaya Rotklein, said in an e-mailed statement that the training missions had methods in place to work out the fuel needs of the Afghan forces, but that they would work with the agency to make them better. “We make funding recommendations based on military requirements,” she said. “We are committed to stewardship of our taxpayer dollars and take seriously the responsibility entrusted to us by the Department of Defense.”

The American Embassy in Kabul and coalition officials declined to comment.

The inspector general’s agency, known by its acronym, Sigar, was created in 2008 and has had a troubled few years. In 2011, a former inspector general, Arnold Fields, a retired major general, resigned after he was criticized by some members of Congress who said that he had not been aggressive enough in tracking how American money had been spent in Afghanistan. Now, Mr. Sopko has told his staff he wants to bring a new aggressiveness to oversight of spending in Afghanistan.

Last month in another report, the inspector general criticized lack of progress by the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund in building American-financed infrastructure projects. A handful of these projects were meant to build popular support for the Afghan government, but the inspector general found that in most cases no significant construction work had yet begun.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...