The Commission on Wartime Contracting continued its look today at how U.S. tax dollars are spent on construction projects in Afghanistan, and the extent that contractors are supervised. Witnesses, including officials from several companies that have Afghan work contracts, cited security and Afghan illiteracy as the two top challenges facing contractors. The bipartisan Commission is expected to issue its final report on contracting issues in Iraq and Afghanistan to Congress in July.
The commission's previous session on construction problems in Afghanistan, held Jan. 24, featured testimony from Arnold Fields, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, who has since left this position and from witnesses representing federal departments that use construction contracts. Fields said that bad planning was the chief reason for cost overruns in the country’s reconstruction efforts.
The U.S. government has spent billions of dollars on construction projects in Afghanistan since the anti-Taliban intervention was launched in 2001. Goals include supporting U.S. and allied troops, providing facilities for the Afghan government, reconstructing damaged properties, and promoting economic development. Projects include power plants, schools, hospitals and clinics, prisons, facilities for the Afghan National Army and Police, plus facilities for use by American and allied troops in the country.