WASHINGTON — The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, has reported difficulty in identifying whether a $457.7 million program was successful due to a lack of accountability methods.
The Legacy and Afghanistan Source Operations Management program, or ASOM, set out to train and develop the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces’ (ANDSF) intelligence capabilities in 2007. The Army Contract Command, or ACC, awarded one task order and four contracts to Imperatis Corporation, who subcontracted with New Century Consulting throughout 2010 to 2013 to accomplish this.
Specifically, New Century was tasked with developing training courses for Afghan intelligence officers and, in 2013, ACC awarded New Century the contract to implement these training courses and mentor intelligence officers at various sites in Afghanistan.
Per the report, the primary way New Century measured the success of the ASOM program was through successful transfer of intelligence training sites to complete Afghan control at the completion of the program.
By the end of the program in 2016, 59 of the 125 sites were transferred with full readiness to the Afghan government, while the remaining were transferred regardless of their capabilities. SIGAR found that the training courses were not properly administered, as less than half of student instructors, trainers and police intelligence trainers completed the proper curriculum to hold their positions.
Meanwhile, SIGAR found the remaining accountability efforts to be less than effective, with New Century as the primary data collector and often self-assessing themselves as “successful” with a lack of evidence. The report notes mixed results of outside evaluators due to difficulty in finding program candidates from the ANDSF.
In official comments, the ACC denies responsibility for the effectiveness of its programs and says it is the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office who is responsible for the end result. Either way, SIGAR argues, the systems were not there to measure if there was success.
As the Legacy and ASOM programs lacked evaluation metrics and accountability, so the report found it lacked proper auditing.
SIGAR wrote that the Defense Contract Management Agency, which ensures the integrity of the contracting process, found New Century to not have adequate accounting abilities in 2014; yet the agency continued to sign off on bills from the subcontractor until February 2016.
SIGAR also cites an audit from the Defense Contract Audit Agency, which questions $51 million of Imperatis’ incurred costs from 2007 to 2013.
“According to ACC, Imperatis failed to monitor and evaluate its subcontractor costs and, therefore, misrepresented some costs as allowable and allocable when it submitted invoices for payment,” the report says. “This resulted in [the Department of Defense] paying for costs the U.S. government was not legally responsible to pay, thereby increasing those contracts’ costs.”
Additionally, Imperatis billed the ACC an average of more than $1.8 million per month during a 10-month period after development of its training courses under the Legacy contract had been canceled.
These accountability and strategy issues are not a new concern for SIGAR. In January, SIGAR released its 2017 “High-Risk List,” expressing budgetary concerns, contract management worries, and concern regarding oversight difficulty and a lack of strategy in Afghanistan reconstruction.
According to Gen. John Sopko, the head of SIGAR, the U.S. has given Afghanistan $64 billion since 2002 to build and support the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police and the Afghan Air Force to combat the Taliban and other threats.
Sopko noted that with all the money spent on programs and support, the ANDSF is still “basically playing whack-a-mole following the Taliban around Afghanistan.”