WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is drilling down on the Defense Department task force that led to the construction of an excessively expensive $43 million natural gas filling station in Afghanistan. The now-defunct Task Force for Stability and Business Operations (TFBSO) cost $800 million in its mission to facilitate economic development in Afghanistan. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) faced impeded access to task force documents in reviewing the gas station cost over-run.
“I believe that, given DoD’s decision to impede SIGAR’s access to Task Force documents, a full review of all TFBSO activities in Afghanistan is necessary,” Grassley wrote to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. “State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development officials said they wouldn’t consider continuing TFBSO programs because they were ‘liabilities due to safety concerns, lack of sustainability, and other problems.’ This raises serious questions about TFBSO’s use of taxpayer dollars.”
Grassley asked the Defense Department to give him all records related to task force activities pertaining to Afghanistan, from January 1, 2009, through March 31, 2015; and all records concerning the task force from April 1, 2015, to the date of his request, including all records pertaining to SIGAR’s requests for information regarding the task force, and all records discussing SIGAR reports, letters, or statements about the task force.
Grassley plans to seek a Department of Defense inspector general audit of the $800 million task force expenditures and will ask fellow senators to join the request.
Grassley’s latest letter to the defense secretary is available here.
Last week, Grassley pressed the Defense Department to cooperate with SIGAR by releasing all documents, names of staff involved and reasons for placing severe restrictions on information behind the construction of the natural gas filling station.