State Department Faulted for Lax Oversight of Afghanistan Justice Contract

A report from IG John Sopko stated, “IDLO has faced high leadership turnover and budgetary shortfalls that, according to IDLO’s Audit and Finance Committee, raise serious questions about the future sustainability of the organization.” A report from IG John Sopko stated, “IDLO has faced high leadership turnover and budgetary shortfalls that, according to IDLO’s Audit and Finance Committee, raise serious questions about the future sustainability of the organization.” SIGAR

U.S. efforts to exit Afghanistan with a sustainable rule of law infrastructure in place may be jeopardized by “weaknesses in the design and oversight” of justice-sector contracts, an audit has found.

State Department contracts totaling $223 million to help train Afghani justice administrators, prosecutors, attorneys and case managers suffered from requirements that “were poorly defined, resulting in ‘useless’ deliverables,” as well as expenses that are difficult to track, according to the audit report, released Friday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Last July, the IG, John Sopko, warned Secretary of State John Kerry of such problems in a similar report questioning a $47.8 million contract awarded on a sole-source basis to the Rome-based International Development Law Organization. The original goal was to have the program fully implemented in all of war-torn Afghanistan’s 34 provinces by May 2012, but the plan was later scaled back to seven.

State’s ability to oversee the contractor was limited under the contract, SIGAR noted in the new audit. “According to a State official,” the report stated, “IDLO has faced high leadership turnover and budgetary shortfalls that, according to IDLO’s Audit and Finance Committee, raise serious questions about the future sustainability of the organization.”

Though State planned to rely on self-reporting by the contractor, SIGAR said it disagreed with the department that “self-reported information is an adequate substitute for State protecting the authority of the U.S. government to access all records related to how $47.8 million in taxpayer funds will be spent.”

State officials agreed with most of SIGAR’s recommendations that it renegotiate the IDLO contract and a related contract to “secure the right of the U.S. government to audit and inspect” the contractor’s records. But in a letter to SIGAR, James Dobbins, State’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and William Brownfield, assistant secretary of State for international narcotics and law enforcement  affairs,” said, “We are confident that we have adequate and appropriate oversight mechanisms built into our letter of agreement with this public international organization. Because of our collective efforts, we believe that the government of Afghanistan now has the ability to deploy at least a minimally adequate and functioning system that will effectively support continuing reform past the 2014 military transition.”

The report’s conclusions were embraced by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, who requested the report.

“When you have contractors utterly failing to meet goals, and then going back retroactively and changing those goals to make it seem like they succeeded, you’ve got a major problem,” McCaskill said. “Unfortunately, waste, fraud, and abuse has too often been the result when it comes to the billions we’ve spent in Afghanistan, and the State Department needs to take action immediately to implement safeguards over these contracts.” 

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 Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • 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 Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • 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.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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