Just another press bulletin from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) -- and, therefore, put away loose crockery and stop operating heavy machinery:
Today, SIGAR released an audit highlighting concerns with USAID's Stability in Key Areas Programs (SIKA), which was set up to address sources of instability in Afghan communities.
The audit found that after 16 months and $47 million spent, USAID had not met essential program objectives. None of the funds spent had gone to grants that would fund projects to address instability as called for in the contracts, even though this was deemed the essential component to the program. The $47 million was largely spent on workshops and training sessions resulting in community dissatisfaction with the lack of progress in implementing grants.
Forty-seven million dollars' worth of workshops and training session will disaffect anyone. But all that money spent to teach people how to spend that same money isn't just nuts, it's costly institutional rot proceeding unchecked.
Such disappointment may actually result in further destabilization and disaffection toward the Afghan government.
Quote from Special Inspector General John F. Sopko:
"It's troubling that after 16 months, this program has not issued its first community grant. Rather, it has spent nearly $50 million -- roughly a quarter of the total program budget -- on conferences, overhead and workshops. This looks like bad value for U.S. taxpayers and the Afghan people."
Might as well take a match to the whole thing.