WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, received the results of an audit he requested in 2016, along with then-Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The audit is the result of conscientious oversight efforts conducted by Grassley over several years of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), specifically Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO).

Audit findings include:

  • TFBSO’s poor recordkeeping limited a full assessment of its activities.
  • TFBSO did not clearly articulate its mission, objectives and strategy for Afghanistan until August 2012, and inconsistent coordination with other agencies led to conflicting efforts.
  • TFBSO’s poor planning, contracting and oversight practices contributed to incomplete projects, unsatisfactory work and avoidable delays, resulting in wasted expenditures.
  • Only 22 percent of TFBSO programmatic contracts met their required deliverables, while 78 percent partially met or failed to meet required deliverables.
  • TFBSO did not plan to transition its incomplete projects to U.S Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) or another donor, leading to some not being sustained.

“The findings of this audit are just another example of the Defense Department’s failure to gets its financial house in order. I requested this audit in 2016 due to concerns of unexplained, undocumented and unjustified spending,” Grassley said.

“Congress appropriated $823 million for task force projects. Auditors found rock-solid supporting documentation for $435 million, leaving hundreds of millions of dollars unaccounted for. This careless bookkeeping means American taxpayers may never know what happened to the rest of their money.

“I applaud Special Inspector General auditors for their detailed work. Unfortunately, this audit is just one more example of the breakdown of internal controls that helps explain why the Defense Department can’t earn a clean opinion of its annual financial audits. The department must provide accountability for its programs and personnel agency-wide and put an end to this indefensible waste and abuse of the public trust.”

The audit also uncovered disturbing facts, including: $35 million in contracts awarded to firms employing former TFBSO staff in senior executive roles; only seven of the 35 TFBSO projects started are still in operation, and of 124 contracts awarded, only 89 had complete files. While some project records indicated that contractors delivered project-required goods and services, it was no guarantee that the project was sustainable or contributed value to DoD’s overarching mission. Moreover, nearly 50 percent of contracts were awarded noncompetitively.

In 2016, Grassley sent a letter to SIGAR Inspector General John Sopko requesting a top-to-bottom audit of TFBSO programs and spending, as well as a full report to Congress. The request came after SIGAR released a report questioning the more than $40 million TFBSO spent to construct a gas station in Afghanistan. Despite being disputed by the DOD, the SIGAR audit re-confirmed the $43 million cost estimate for the project.