Weak oversight, poor workmanship cited in failure of Afghanistan project

Posted by James Rosen on October 25, 2013 

The Judge Advocate General of the United States Army, Lt. Gen. Scott C. Black greets Chief Prosecutor of Parwan, Abdul Basheer Yaqobi on July 11 at the Bagram district center in Parwan province.

U.S. ARMY 1ST LT. LORY STEVENS — Task Force Warrior Public Affairs Office/U.S. Department of Defense

The Pentagon's Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said Friday that poor oversight by U.S. military and State Department officials contributed to a failed project to build a $10 million courthouse in the war-torn country's Parwan province.

McClatchy and other news organizations, along with SIGAR, have documented large sums of money that have been misspent or unaccounted for as part of the $100 billion the United States has provided to rebuild Afghanistan.

In a report and a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, SIGAR said it had found numerous concrete cracks at the courthouse, incomplete concrete pours and rebar (steel reinforcing bars) bound by wire instead of welded.

"Construction of the Justice Center in Parwan courthouse has not been completed and the workmanship of the construction that has been done to date is poor," SIGAR concluded.

In response to the report, the United States' command center in Afghanistan said it was taking new steps to improve oversight of the billions of dollars flowing to contractors rebuilding the South Asia country.

United States Forces-Afghanistan said in a statement Friday the tightened controls will focus on larger and more expensive projects "to prevent waste of taxpayer dollars and to ensure Afghans are provided facilities that meet their needs."

Among the new controls are requiring contractors' project heads in Afghanistan to receive training within 120 days of getting an assignment, stepping up efforts to review projects' progress every month at U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla., and directing U.S. commanders in Afghanistan to monitor contracts more closely.

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