SIGAR: US Infrastructure Scheme in Afghanistan Plagued with Inadequate Planning

A U.S.-backed program on constructing facilities for the Afghanistan National Security Forces is at risk of failing due to inadequate planning, a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction reveals.

The U.S. government would have disbursed USD11.4 billion to help build some 900 ANSF facilities through fiscal 2012, of which USD7 billion will be provided from fiscal 2010 to fiscal 2012. Another USD800 million may be added to support the operations and maintenance of the these facilities in the next five years. The Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan manages this program.  

“Despite the considerable funding and large number of facilities involved, CSTC-A has not developed a long-range construction plan, placing its USD11.4 billion ANSF facilities’ construction program at risk of building facilities that are inadequate or do not meet the ANSF strategic and operational needs,” the report reads.

SIGAR recommended in its report that CSTC-A develop long-term construction, and maintenance and operational plans that include updated requirements of the ANSF, since the latter’s personnel are expected to reach 400,000 by 2013.

CSTC-A did not fully concur with the suggestion on drafting a long-range construction plan, but noted that it boosted the identification of future projects and documentation of its priorities. It said it fully concurred with the proposal for long-term maintenance and operational plans.

Meanwhile, J. Alexander Thier, assistant to the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said his agency is improving its accountability and oversight of Afghan projects through contracting reforms.

“Consistent with the Agency’s broader procurement reform agenda, we are working to decrease our reliance on large, multi-year agreements and are instead shifting to implement an increased number of smaller and more flexible agreements that are often shorter in length,” Thier, who is also USAID’s Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs director, said before a Jan. 24 hearing of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thier said these smaller contracts are “more focused programmatically as well as regionally based” and managed by USAID field-based staff, who are “closer to the actual implementation and provide a higher degree of monitoring and oversight.”

About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.