This editorial appeared in The Kansas City Star.
President Barack Obama wants to boost U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, but several aid programs in that country aren't exactly working at peak efficiency, according to several audits and government examinations.
USA Today reported that hundreds of millions of dollars had been paid to contractors even though in many cases the contractors couldn't demonstrate solid results. The Obama administration should focus on these problems to ensure that aid paid for with tax dollars is properly delivered.
Michael Yates, Afghanistan mission director for the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), said the program since 2002 had "remarkably powerful impacts" in education, agriculture and other areas.
Still, the agency could do much better. A half-dozen audits by AID's inspector general found that only one program was working largely as intended.
The effectiveness of a $37 million contract aimed at helping small businesses couldn't be determined. The problem? The contractor's data weren't seen as reliable. Another program resulted in defective buildings.
A special inspector general for Afghanistan recently said the overall aid effort had "major weaknesses."
The arrival of a new administration in Washington provides an opportunity to thoroughly review and improve old programs and procedures. If the U.S. effort in Afghanistan is to be successful, aid programs must become significantly more effective.