If you want to know why waste and conflicts of interests are so prevalent in the United States, you need to look no further than the recent report of he Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) on the so-called G222 program. I wrote about this program in 2013 but we now have the result of the criminal investigation. Under the program, the United States Air Force spent $549 million to buy 20 Italian-made cargo planes for the Afghan government. They were found to be unreliable and turned into scrap metal for $40,257. No action was taken against the company, Alenia North America, or the Air Force General responsible for the outrageous contract (despite a finding of a conflict of interest). The Justice Department refused to take action because such cases are “unheard of.” Perhaps, but government officials and contractor heard the message loud and clear: there is virtually no contractual waste that you can commit in the United States military that will result in sanctions. This picture from SIGAR is what remains of over half a billion dollars of U.S. taxpayer money.
According to SIGAR, the Pentagon was repeatedly warned that the planes were unreliable and that there were both failures of maintenance and spare parts. Yet, the General continued to approve the spending and then sent the planes directly to the scrap yard. The officer later retired without any action taken against him. There was a push for prosecution by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, along with officials from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI, but the Justice Department killed the prosecution.
SIGAR concluded “Unfortunately, no one involved in the program was held accountable for the failure of the G222 program.” So this company was enriched for planes that did not fly. Military officials were able to retire without prosecution. Yet, over half a billion dollars just evaporated. Poof.
One problem cited by the Justice Department is that the United States accepted the delivery of the aircraft despite the company violating contract requirements. So, by accepting the aircraft, the military not only effectively barred a criminal prosecution but also allowed the responsible officials to quietly go into retirement. It is like saying that we could not prosecute the bank robbers because the bank teller willingly gave them the money and we cannot prosecute the bank teller because no one told him he could not just give the money away.
Now here is the kicker. SIGAR the former Air Force officer “had a clear conflict of interest because he was significantly involved with the G222 program while on active duty, then retired and became the primary contact for Alenia on the same program.”
We have become a nation of chumps . . . and chumps get clumps of scrap metal while others get rich on waste.