Tag Archives: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

US foreign aid agency spent $89.7M finding jobs for 55 Afghan women

This is how government wastes your hard-earned tax dollars.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is a federal government agency that is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and assistance to “developing” countries.  With a budget of over $27 billion, USAID is one of the largest official aid agencies in the world, and accounts for more than half of all U.S. foreign assistance (which in absolute dollar terms is the highest in the world).

Elizabeth Harrington reports for Washington Free Beacon, Sept. 13, 2018, that USAID spent over $200 million on the Promoting Gender Equity in National Priority Program (aka Promote) to “empower” 75,000 women in in Afghanistan, but only found jobs for 55 women.

USAID trumpeted the program as part of building a “brighter future for Afghanistan” by empowering its women:

In the Transformation Decade (2015-2024), a new generation of Afghan leaders—both men and women—will emerge who are equipped with the education, skills, and desire to build a brighter future for Afghanistan. Promote is a joint commitment by the U.S. and Afghan Governments that will work to empower 75,000 women between the ages of 18-30 and help ensure these women are included among a new generation of Afghan political, business, and civil society leaders.

Promote aims to empower women to become leaders alongside their male counterparts, and ensure they have the skills, experience, knowledge, and networks to succeed. USAID has committed $216 million to fund the program, making it the largest women’s empowerment project in the U.S. Government’s history. Other international donors are able to contribute an additional $200 million to help expand the program.

Alas, the international donors turned out to be a pie-in-the-sky dream.

According to a new report released by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), no other country or organization has donated to the program, other than the United States:

As of January 2018, no international donors had contributed funding to Promote. Officials from five of the seven donor countries SIGAR spoke to said they cannot financially contribute to the Promote program or that USAID’s assumption that foreign donors would contribute $200 million for the program was an unrealistic goal.

The report says the Promote program is a five-year $216 million effort. Three years into the program, however, USAID has spent $89.7 million but “has not demonstrated whether the program has made progress” toward its goals. The goal was to find new or better jobs for 2,100 women. As of September 2017, only 55 women or 2.6% found employment — which comes to $1.5 million per woman. The report concludes, “It is unclear whether the agency can deliver the opportunities it promised the women of Afghanistan.”

In addition to falling well below its job targets, the future of the program is also in doubt, as Afghanistan is unlikely to continue the program without the United States. The report points out that “This raises questions about whether Promote is sustainable at all and could put USAID’s investment in the program in jeopardy.”

The report recommends USAID should reevaluate the program before spending its remaining taxpayer-funded budget:

Given that the program has expended $89.7 of its potential $216 million, USAID has an opportunity to reassess and adjust the program and take steps to enhance its sustainability now, rather than waiting until the program is over in 2020 or 2021.

Stephen Frank of California Political Review observes:

At a cost of $1.5 million per person, the U.S. government got 55 Afghan women jobs. Any wonder we are laughed at by the rest of the world. For about $50,000 a piece they [the women] could get a college education or vocational training. But, the more that is “spent” on the women, the more jobs for U.S. government workers there is to go around.

~Eowyn

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Obama aids enemy Muslims: $ to Hamas; military contracts to Taliban/al-Qaeda

HamasHamas

On the afternoon of July 26, 2013, President Lucifer took advantage of it being Friday to pull a stunt.
As reported by The Washington Times, citing “national security interests,” Obama waived Congress’ ban on direct funding of the Palestinian Authority (PA), despite the PA’s ties to the terrorist organization Hamas. In so doing, Obama cleared the way for $500 million of U.S. taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars to be sent as “aid” to terrorists.
Now comes news that supporters of the brutal Taliban and the terrorist group al-Qaeda in Afghanistan have been getting U.S. military contracts! As my bud, FOTM’s Steve, would say: Bring me more duct tape ’cause my head is about to explode.

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Tony Capaccio reports for Bloomberg, July 29, 2013, that Obama administration officials, specifically the U.S. Army Suspension and Debarment Office (ASDO), are citing “due process rights” as a reason not to cancel the military contracts.
Worse still, according to John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, ASDO has declined to act in 43 such cases, saying “They may be enemies of the United States but that is not enough to keep them from getting government contracts.”
In a letter accompanying a 236-page quarterly report to Congress, Sopko said:
I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract. There appears to be a growing gap between the policy objectives of Washington and the reality of achieving them in Afghanistan, especially when the government must hire and oversee contractors to perform its mission.”

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According to the report, Sopko’s agency “has found it impossible to confirm” the number of contracts awarded in a $32 million program to install barricades, bars or gratings in culverts at about 2,500 Afghan locations to prevent insurgents from placing roadside bombs. The explosives are the biggest killer of U.S. and Afghan troops. In other words —

The military contracts awarded to the Taliban and al-Qaeda include having them undertake installations to prevent the same Taliban and al-Qaeda from placing roadside bombs that kill our troops.

Did you get that?
The U.S. has 60,000 troops in Afghanistan, with plans to reduce the number to 34,000 by next February, although Obama hasn’t decided how many to keep in the country after 2014 to train Afghan forces and engage in anti-terrorist missions.
The Obama administration has requested $10.7 billion in Afghanistan’s “reconstruction” funding for fiscal 2014 to cover projects from improving local government to building roads and schools. But Sopko expressed pessimism that the U.S. can maintain effective oversight of billions of dollars in reconstruction spending as forces are withdrawn:
“Unless the U.S. government improves its contract-oversight policies and practices, far too much will be wasted. [The policy to create an effective Afghan Army, which has 185,287 troops] will remain hollow unless Washington pays equal attention to proper contracting and procurement activities to sustain those forces.”
As of March, 40,315 of the personnel working under Pentagon contracts in Afghanistan, or about 37%, were Afghan locals, according to Sopko’s report.
In another report, Sopko said $47 million that the U.S. Agency for International Development has spent on a program to stabilize Afghanistan before U.S. troop withdrawals, hasn’t dealt with the sources of instability. An audit showed that after 16 months, none of the agency’s essential program objectives have been reached and the money spent has mostly financed workshops and training sessions.
Sopko said: “It’s troubling that after 16 months, this program has not issued its first community grant. Rather, it has spent almost $50 million, about a quarter of the total program budget, on conferences, overhead and workshops.”
H/t FOTM’s WildBillAlaska.
~Eowyn

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