We have become accustomed to reports of unimaginable corruption and waste in Afghanistan from bags of money delivered to President Karzai to constructing huge buildings to be immediately torn down to buying aircraft that cannot be used. The common element to the stories is the absence of any reported prosecution or even discipline for those responsible. You can simply waste hundreds of millions of dollars and continue in your government position. This week’s outrage comes from a report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). Among huge examples of waste and delay is this little ditty: USAid paid a $300,000 charge for 600 gallons of diesel fuel. That is $500/gallon to a contractor.
International Organization for Migration paid the contractor the $500 per gallon at a time when the market price in Afghanistan for diesel fuel was less than $5.00 per gallon. The invoice should have demanded $3,000 instead of $300,000. No one was prosecuted for the payment. Likewise, the IOM paid $220,000 for an automatic temperature control device that should have cost between $2,000 and $10,000. Again, no prosecution and no record of any discipline against those signing off on the payment.
We put people in jail for snatching a purse, but a contractor can charge $500 per gallon of gas and neither the contractor nor the government official responsible face any reported sanctions. It appears all “self-serve” at the U.S. Treasury based on the honor system.