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Report: U.S. millions spent on Afghanistan police poorly tracked

From Charley Keyes, CNN Senior National Security Producer
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Payroll costs, work force numbers are unclear, U.S. says
  • Report concerned about how Afghanistan will fund police when U.S. withdraws

Washington (CNN) -- Despite the U.S. spending more than half a billion dollars to build an Afghanistan police force, it is impossible to know how many police are on the job and whether the right people are getting paid, according to a new report.

The office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) Monday called for renewed efforts by the U.S. State and Defense Departments to track police payroll costs and work force numbers.

The 39-page critique comes as the Afghanistan government, with significant U.S. investment and training, is beefing up its police force from 81,000 to 134,000 by October this year. The U.S. and other international donors have contributed more than $1.5 billion to fund the police force, with the U.S. providing more than a third of that amount.

The SIGAR report said the Afghanistan Ministry of the Interior was trying to overhaul police employment and payroll records, in some cases with sophisticated biometric tracking of employees with fingerprints and iris scans. "However, these systems and databases are decentralized and the records and data in them are incomplete, unverified and unreconciled," the report said.

Developing Afghanistan security forces, including the national police, is a key goal of the U.S. and its allies as they begin drawing down their military forces this summer with the intent of a full withdrawal by 2014.

The report also raises long-term concerns about how the Afghanistan government will maintain its police force. "The government of Afghanistan does not have the financial resources to sustain ANP (Afghanistan National Police) salaries and other related costs at either the current or projected levels," the report warns.

With the help of the U.S., the Kabul government has implemented new ways of paying police, including disbursing salaries by cell phone, in a bid to eliminate skimming by police superiors and the creation of "ghost" employees. However, one in five police are paid in cash and the report says there is no way to verify that only police are paid.

The employee rolls range from 111,774 to 125,218, according to the SIGAR report, because of the absence of "a complete personnel or human resource database to track and account for all Afghanistan National Police personnel data."