IG Probing Whether Contractor Fraud Linked to US Afghan Casualties

Tuesday, 23 Jul 2013 03:41 PM

By Lisa Barron

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A preliminary investigation found incidents of fraud in the program designed to protect American troops in Afghanistan by covering roadside drains with metal to stop insurgents from planting bombs, according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

The report, released Tuesday, revealed hundreds of so-called "culvert denial systems" were never installed or were installed improperly, and said an investigation has been launched "into whether this apparent failure to perform may have been a factor in the death or injury of several U.S. soldiers."

According to the report, "Our preliminary investigation found that at least two Afghan contractors — with a total contract amount of nearly $1 million —in one Afghanistan province have committed fraud by billing the U.S. government for the installation of 250 culvert denial systems that were either never installed or incorrectly installed."

Both men have been charged with fraud and negligent homicide.

"The loss of life because individuals were not doing their job is horrific and unacceptable," Special Inspector General John Sopko told Fox News, adding, "This case shows so clearly that fraud can kill in Afghanistan. We will find out if contracting officers did not do their job, and if that proves to be true and Americans have died, we will hold those individuals accountable."

The report also states that SIGAR identified "at least 2,500 specific grid points where culvert denial systems were supposed to be installed, though with the lack of quality assurance/quality control documentation in the contract files, it is not clear how many of those culvert denial systems were actually completed."

Problems with the system were first identified in a safety alert letter sent to the Department of Defense in October 2012.

"We initiated this review in response to the concerns identified in our safety alert letter," stated the report. "We sought to identify the universe of contracts awarded for culvert denial system installation, and the extent to which contract management and oversight were conducted."



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