According to a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), it encountered insurmountable obstacles from the Treasury Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) when attempting to hold them accountable for over $1 billion in aid given to Afghanistan.
Both Treasury and USAID refused to comply with transparency requests “in any capacity” while the State Department only selectively released information regarding the $1.1 billion in aid sent to Afghanistan since August 2021, the report said.
In its quarterly report released last week, SIGAR said that for the first time in its 14-year history, it was unable to provide Congress and the American public a full accounting of government spending “due to noncooperation of several U.S. government agencies,” calling it “a gross deviation.”
SIGAR reported that in providing information under its audit and quarterly requests, the State Department “was selective in the information,” sharing only “high-level funding data” while not including the details of “agency-supported programs in Afghanistan.”
SIGAR accused the agencies of non-cooperation by thwarting other congressionally-mandated SIGAR reviews, specifically regarding the collapse of the Afghan government, ongoing humanitarian programs, and State and USAID safeguards to prevent the Taliban from seizing aid meant for the Afghan people.
One of the audits included in SIGAR’s report found that the State Department failed to account for up to $32 million in assets transferred to the former Afghan government that are now believed to be in the hands of the Taliban.
According to the report, one State Department official had told SIGAR that officials from State have prohibited staffers from communicating with investigators without first getting approval from the Department’s legal advisors.
The State Department has argued that SIGAR’s mandate only applies to federal funds dedicated to Afghanistan’s reconstruction, an initiative that collapsed in August 2021 after the US withdrew from the country, and not to any current aid efforts.
The Treasury Department argued that it complied with all legal requirements when sharing information with SIGAR while USAID maintains that it provided all records “that fall under SIGAR’s statutory jurisdiction.”
SIGAR countered that “reconstruction” aid also encompasses funds that are directed to “humanitarian” and “development” support in Afghanistan.