Lawmakers seek more experienced Afghan inspector general

The White House has not started floating candidates to lead the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction office, but lawmakers and aides already are devising a list of qualifications for the high-profile post vacated on Monday by Arnold Fields.

Fields, a former Marine Corps two-star general who had led the office since its creation in 2008, resigned amid a push by a bipartisan group of senators who have blasted him for nearly two years for incompetence and mismanagement.

As the SIGAR, Fields was the top government official charged with investigating waste, fraud, and abuse in Afghanistan. With pressure mounting for his resignation, Fields last week made major changes to his office, including firing two officials who oversaw investigations and audits.

But many lawmakers asserted that the problems came from the top and that Fields had little experience to prepare him for the enormous task.

"With billions of dollars being spent in Afghanistan, our country must have top-notch leadership at the agency responsible for rooting out the waste and fraud that can jeopardize our efforts," Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., a former auditor who led the charge against Fields on Capitol Hill, said in a statement on Monday night. "Mr. Fields simply was not the right person for this very difficult job."

In the House, Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., former chair of the State and Foreign Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, Tuesday called on Obama to move quickly to find a candidate for the job.

"I thank Arnold Fields for his service and call on President Obama to appoint expeditiously a successor who is qualified, aggressive, and dedicated to the job of protecting U.S. taxpayer funds and giving our mission in Afghanistan its greatest chance for success," said Lowey, who hopes to be the ranking member of the subcommittee this year.

Fields, who retired in 2004 as the commander of Marine Forces Europe, previously served as the inspector general at U.S. Central Command. But aides tracking the issue say they want to see someone with more auditing and investigations experience fill the post, which is not confirmed by the Senate but draws much scrutiny on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers want a candidate with "less celebrity and more technical competence," said a Senate aide who has been tracking the issue.

With that in mind, the pool of qualified candidates could include longtime investigators and analysts at the Government Accountability Office or the Pentagon's Inspector General office.

Topping the next SIGAR's To Do list will be delivering tangible results to satisfy an increasingly impatient Congress, which created the office after a similar one on Iraq uncovered hundreds of millions of dollars in misspent reconstruction money.

McCaskill and other lawmakers have said there has been little to show and almost no return on investment since the office was created in 2008. Congress has approved more than $46 million for SIGAR, but the office has uncovered only $8 million in waste and fraud.

"That doesn't seem to be a good value for our taxpayer dollars," Sen. Scott Brown , R-Mass., said at a November hearing with Fields.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.