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Following McCaskill Request, Watchdog Confirms Lapses in Afghanistan ‘Rule of Law’ Programs

Senator asked Special Inspector General to review State Department contract

January 24, 2014

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today called for action, after the top federal watchdog for Afghanistan reconstruction reviewed-at McCaskill's request-a series of contracts by the U.S. State Department for "justice sector support" programs in the war-torn country, and found significant lapses in oversight and accountability.

In a report released today from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction on such "rule of law" programs, the Inspector General identified ambiguous benchmarks for progress, unrealistic goals, flawed implementation of programs, and lack of performance oversight, putting at risk hundreds of millions of American taxpayer dollars. McCaskill had formally requested that the Inspector General's office review the contracts nearly one year ago, saying at the time, "I have serious concerns about the effectiveness of the [Justice Sector Support Program]."

In one instance identified by the Special Inspector General's report, a contract to deploy a case-management system to track criminal cases in Afghanistan's justice system was required to be fully deployed nationwide by May of 2012. When the program failed to expand beyond seven of the country's 34 provinces, the goals of the contract were retroactively scaled back to an implementation in just those seven provinces where the system had already been installed.

"When you have contractors utterly failing to meet goals, and then going back retroactively and changing those goals to make it seem like they succeeded, you've got a major problem," said McCaskill, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight. "Unfortunately, waste, fraud, and abuse has too often been the result when it comes to the billions we've spent in Afghanistan, and the State Department needs to take action immediately to implement safeguards over these contracts."

Today's report-titled "State Department Programs Need Better Management and Stronger Oversight"-also found a lack of adequate safeguards or accounting over contract costs-noting that the State Department failed to provide routine required monthly quality assurance reports tracking contract costs for nearly half the period of the contract.

Click HERE to read highlights of McCaskill's fight for stronger accountability in Washington.

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