Skip to main content

Report warns billions in U.S. aid may be wasted in Iraq, Afghanistan

From Charley Keyes, CNN Senior National Security Producer
  • The Commission on Wartime Contracting issues the warning
  • Some projects in Iraq and Afghanistan may collapse when the U.S. leaves, it says
  • It blames "overly ambitious proposals, incomplete analysis, poor planning" and more

Washington (CNN) -- A new report warns that billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayers' money may be wasted because of the inability of Iraq and Afghanistan to keep American-financed projects running.

The report released Friday by the Commission on Wartime Contracting comes as the Obama administration is poised to withdraw militarily from Iraq by the end of the year and to begin its drawdown in Afghanistan this summer.

"We're seeing sustainment problems ranging from health clinics in Iraq to road building in Afghanistan," commission co-chairman Christopher Shays said. "Unless government officials identify and address sustainment requirements and change or kill doomed programs, an enormous amount of taxpayers' money will turn out to have been wasted."

The report lists a variety of projects and programs that may collapse once the U.S. leaves, including says the $11 billion the United States has spent on building bases and training facilities for the Afghan security forces.

"The commission, inspectors general, and others who have examined the past decade's wartime contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan have thus far identified tens of billions of dollars of waste that has already occurred," the report says. "Absent effective counter-measures, those findings could pale in comparison to additional waste developing from unsustainable projects and programs."

The report says Iraq and Afghanistan may lack necessary staffing, technical support and funding.

"No matter how well a project or program has been set up and executed, it can turn into waste if we hand it over to a host government that can't supply trained people to run it, pay for supplies, or perform essential maintenance." commission co-chair Michael Thibault said in a news release.

And commission officials bluntly criticize the Defense and State departments as well as the Agency for International Development.

"The threat of billions of dollars in new waste through unsustainability stems from, among other things, overly ambitious proposals, incomplete analysis, poor planning, weak coordination, and inadequate follow-through by federal officials -- in short, from failure to apply effective acquisition discipline in the stress of a contingency setting," the report says.

The commission will hold a hearing Monday with Under Secretary of State Patrick Kennedy.