The only thing more discouraging than Teh Surge 2.0 is the finding that our defense contracting is still as screwed up as ever. In eight years, given all the money pouring into Iraq and the knowledge that it was not well overseen, the US government now repeating the same mistakes in Afghanistan.
In the report released Friday, auditors with the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction blamed poor communication between U.S. officials and the two companies that are working on the majority of the projects.
While the U.S. Agency for International Development has relied on the companies, Louis Berger and Black & Veatch, for updates on projects, "that reporting has not always been timely or sufficient," the auditors said.
The companies also had trouble meeting deadlines for projects because of dangerous conditions.
In addition, Afghanistan began rebuilding its electrical grid without a concrete plan for how to approach such a complex effort, the auditors said.
In 2006, the USAID awarded the two U.S. companies a five-year, $1.4 billion joint contract to build many of the roads and energy projects that now are under way in Afghanistan.
Our government's defense accounting process is amazingly broken. Each service has its own accounting rules and procedures, and the auditing process isn't too effective. SecDef Gates is trying to improve the process, but it's like using band-aids to patch a dam that's leaking in multiple spots. We can't spend money on health or education, but there's no bottom to the defense bowl. Oh and Congress is completely unwilling to do anything about it, as long as the Repubs can throw up cuts in Medicare and Social Security instead.
Maybe President Obama can get around to this issue in his second term. No way he's going to touch it in the first term.