A new report from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, found that the U.S. wasted about $15.5 billion in taxpayer funds in Afghanistan over the last decade.
The report segregates this misuse of funds into two separate categories: instances of waste, fraud, and abuse, and failed government reconstruction efforts.
Somewhere between $2.2 billion and $3.5 billion were just flat-out wasted, abused, or stolen. The rest, amounting to about $12 billion, was “spent on two whole-of government reconstruction efforts that appear to have failed and resulted in wasted U.S. taxpayer dollars.”
SIGAR defines waste as “using resources carelessly, extravagantly, or to no purpose and does not necessarily involve a violation of law,” fraud “involves obtaining something of value through willful misrepresentation,” and abuse “is misusing one’s authority or position for financial gain or behaving improperly or unreasonably, and does not necessarily involve a violation of law.”
$4.7 billion was spent on “stabilization programs.” What were the results once the programs were complete you might ask? Well, let's just say they didn’t exactly do what they were expected to. In fact, they really didn’t do anything.
Also, the U.S. spent almost $7.3 billion on counternarcotics programs, an initiative SIGAR said “appears to have done very little to stem the production and exportation of illicit drugs.”
Clearly, project managers aren’t doing a great job of hiring the best people to head up these efforts. SIGAR investigations have resulted in 121 arrests, 158 criminal charges, 117 convictions, and 108 sentencings due to misconduct within this one overall project.
The report investigated only $52.7 billion of the $126 billion budget for the Afghan reconstruction -- not even 42 percent of the entire budget.