Accountability

Published — January 26, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Concerns mounting over billion-dollar construction projects in Afghanistan

Introduction

A major construction project to build 900 security sites for the Afghanistan National Security Forces is so poorly planned that $11.4 billion is at risk, according to an audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Additional infrastructure is needed as the number of security personnel in Afghanistan grows rapidly. Those forces are expected to reach 305,600 by this fall, and climb to 400,000 by 2013.

The multinational military command working with the Afghanistan National Security Forces could not provide plans or justifications for building facilities across the country. Such planning documents would help ensure that construction could adapt to changing circumstances and prevent waste.

The Government Accountability Office and the Office of Management and Budget both strongly recommend developing long-range plans to help control costs of major construction projects.

Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, commander of the transition forces, responded that the GAO planning guide “was not put together to provide best practices for planning in a war zone.”

The Afghan security command also lacks a maintenance plan for the buildings. The U.S. government had awarded an additional $800 million to cover operations and maintenance for 660 of the sites. The Afghan security forces projects it will need help to finance the facilities until 2025.

FAST FACT: The audit found only 4 percent of design plans met the eight key components required by the Afghan National Security Forces contract with MACTEC, an engineering and consulting firm based in Atlanta, GA. The contractor did not meet the best practice components because ANSF never asked them to.

Following are other new watchdog reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), various federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG), and other government entities.

HEALTH CARE

  • The United States ranks 28th in life expectancy among high-income countries, despite spending the highest amount on health care per capita. The life expectancy shortcomings are linked to obesity and smoking. (National Research Council)

MISC.

  • Out of the 83 million pages of classified material reviewed by the new National Declassification Center, only 12 million pages have been declassified. President Obama directed the NDC to review over 400 million pages of historical records by 2013 for declassification. (National Archives)

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