Thursday, December 29, 2011

Agency to get aggressive with fraud, waste in Afghanistan

By most measures, the government agency charged with watching over the enormous flow of cash to U.S. reconstruction efforts here stumbled out of the gate after its creation in 2008.

Not only did many critics consider the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction late to the game — opening its office seven years into the war — but already in its short life its first chief has resigned, the man who replaced him also quit, and Congress has blasted the agency for not living up to its mission.

But in an interview at the U.S. Embassy here, Steven J. Trent, the new acting inspector general, said he believed that with new offices opening in Afghanistan, the largest ever number of agents in-country, and several cases coming near to prosecution, the agency has finally achieved what he called “investigative momentum.”

It can now more aggressively monitor the millions of dollars spent each day on humanitarian and development projects in Afghanistan — and it can track down those who steal, bribe, and defraud the government, Trent said.