WASHINGTON — Due to sloppy management of an Afghan National Army vehicle-maintenance program, the cost to maintain vehicles has risen significantly and made it difficult for the ANA to carry out military operations, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko finds.
The plan was for the Pentagon to establish an "effective" Afghan vehicle-maintenance capacity combining organic capability and contractor support to do the job, the SIGAR report, released Thursday, states. Executing the program properly, the report says, is "critical to the [ANA]" in order to "have a fully operational fleet of vehicles to provide mobility and protection needed to support its fights against the insurgency."
The DoD established a five-year contract estimated to cost $182 million to support a "growing fleet" of 26,000 vehicles, called the ANA Afghanistan Technical Equipment Maintenance Program (A-TEMP) in December 2010, according to the SIGAR report.
But after 68 contract modifications, the contract cost has risen to $423 million and the timeline has been extended from December 2015 to the end of June in 2017.
A new five-year contract that DoD plans to award with a focus on developing an organic maintenance capacity in the ANA and Afghan National Police has an initial cost estimate of over $1 billion, Sopko notes.
Afghanistan Integrated Support Services JV (AISS), the contractor in this case, failed "to meet its most basic contract requirements and program objectives," a statement accompanying the report states.
"And DoD's inaction to correct contractor deficiencies and seek repayment of funds" has resulted in the "waste of U.S. taxpayer funds," according to the statement.
Sopko determined that when Army Contracting Command and the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan structured the A-TEMP contract, they "made inaccurate assumptions about the capacity of the Afghans to manage the supply chain and conduct maintenance."
The contract also underestimated the cost of spare parts and more parts were ordered without cross-checking the current inventory.
The parameters of the contract also "established performance metrics that did not accurately assess contractor performance or progress towards contract goals," the report states.
Also under the contract, AISS charged the Pentagon for maintenance on the amount of vehicles present in the system rather than the amount of vehicles on which actual maintenance was performed.
The flawed way the government paid for AISS services meant it was paying more for the contractor to do less.
For instance, the number of vehicles AISS repaired in the second quarter of 2012 was 3,072, and the number repaired in the third quarter of 2015 was 82.
"Payments to AISS based on ANA vehicle density and not vehicles actually repaired resulted in escalating per-vehicle repair costs from a low of $1,889 to a high per-vehicle repair cost of $51,395," the SIGAR statement highlights.
AISS was cited 113 times through 2013 for failing to fulfill contract requirements.
The contractual flaws were exacerbated by deteriorating security conditions that reduced oversight of maintenance work in 2013 and beyond, according to the report.
AISS didn't have it easy helping to develop an organic maintenance capability within the ANA, the report indicates. It struggled with low literacy rates among the Afghan soldiers, as well as getting soldiers to show up for training and keeping their training up-to-date. The company also had only a "limited pool of ANA managers who possess the skills necessary to manage the supply chain and maintenance shops," the report states.
The Pentagon tried to improve oversight, Sopko acknowledges, by giving the US Army's product manager for Allied Tactical Vehicles oversight of the contract and hiring seven more contracting officer representatives. Additional "corrective measures" are expected to shape the next five-year contract, expected to be awarded in April 2017.
Sopko recommends that the Pentagon review how it oversees and executes the contract and address "conditions that hindered" the implementation of the contract that considers "the challenges that the Afghans face in managing a vehicle maintenance program and that define expectations for contractor participation in vehicle maintenance and capacity building."
DoD has begun to take initial steps to address the issues raised and apply better practices to the current and upcoming contract, the report notes.