Jan 20, 2016 Issues: Armed Services, Overseas Conflict

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congressman Walter B. Jones called on House Armed Services Committee (HASC) leadership to convene an oversight hearing before April on the waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer money in Afghanistan.  The Senate Armed Services Committee is holding an oversight hearing on that topic this afternoon.  The Senate hearing, and Jones request for a similar hearing in the House, come after the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction recently released reports identifying significant waste of American taxpayer money in Afghanistan.  Jones believes House leaders owe it to taxpayers to demand accountability for how their money is being spent.  The full text of Congressman Jones’ letter to HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry and Ranking Member Adam Smith can be found below:     

“Dear Chairman Thornberry and Ranking Member Smith:

Today the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the Pentagon’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations projects in Afghanistan.  The hearing will feature testimony from Mr. John Sopko – the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). 

The hearing is timely.  As you may know, the SIGAR released a report last week on the Task Force’s operations in Afghanistan.  The findings were troubling.  The Task Force wasted at least $54 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money on projects to develop Afghanistan’s oil, gas and mineral industries that did not yield any significant successes.  The Task Force also came under scrutiny last year for spending $150 million to house employees in Afghanistan in plush villas instead of military facilities, and for spending $43 million on a gas station there when a comparable facility cost less than $500,000 in Pakistan. 

Sadly, these are not isolated incidents.  America has spent over $110 billion on Afghan reconstruction. Since the SIGAR was created in 2009, they have conducted 89 performance audits, 64 financial audits and 31 inspections, and identified billions in wasted taxpayer money.        

While I applaud the Senate for conducting oversight of this problem, the House must not fail to do the same.  Taxpayers find this waste of their hard-earned money outrageous.  It is unfair to them to have their money continue to be wasted through fraud and abuse year after year. We owe it to them to stand up and demand accountability.  In my opinion, this has not occurred often enough.  In the seven years of the SIGAR’s existence, Mr. Sopko has only testified before the House Armed Services Committee twice – in 2009 and 2013.

On behalf of the American taxpayers who pay our salaries, I strongly encourage you to convene an oversight hearing on the SIGAR’s ongoing reports of wasted spending in Afghanistan before the April district work period.”