Only 13.5% of US aid goes through Afghan Government – Call to clean up contracting system
Lalit K Jha – May 21, 2010, Pajhwok News Agency, Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (PAN): The Special Inspector-General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) stressed on Friday the need for cleaning up the contracting system by strengthening oversight accountability.
In general, it is a good system, Major General Arnold Fields (Retired), told Pajhwok Afghan News in an exclusive interview. One would be hard pressed to find other folks in the federal work community to provide the resources the contractors were offering, he said.
At the same time, the system needed to be improved so as to increase its efficiency, the SIGAR chief explained. This is an act that really needs to be cleaned up. I think the way to do that is to bring the contracting community just as we need to bring upon the federal community more on oversight and more on accountability on how this money is being spent.
Fields said the United States had decided to substantially increase routing its aid through the government of Afghanistan, meeting one of Kabuls major demands.
Right now 13.5 percent of the US aid is channeled through the Afghan government. Between now and the end of this fiscal year, the government of the United States plans to increase that figure from 13.5 percent to 40 percent.
So we are doing our share to move this in the right direction, because allowing more funds to be channeled through the Government of Afghanistan, it helps to build confidence and helps to build capacity within the government of Afghanistan, Fields said.
Fields had no idea if the Afghan government had the capacity to handle huge amounts of money, saying there was a process underway to certify some institutions to determine their ability to use the increased flow of money.
Earlier appearing before the House Subcommittee on International Organisations, Human Rights and Oversight, Fields acknowledged corruption was a major problem in Afghanistan. When we look at corruption, we are looking at the whole enchilada. We’re looking at sides, the American side as well as the Afghan side.
Fields agreed with a recent statement from General Stanley McChrystal, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, that there is too much dependence on contractors. But there’s a liability to this. We either build the resources that are now being provided by the contracting community within the defence mechanism and structure, or we continue to depend upon contractors.