Tags: Afghanistan | DOD | taxpayer | afghanistan | gas station

US Spent $43 Million of Taxpayers' Money on Afghanistan Gas Station

Image: US Spent $43 Million of Taxpayers' Money on Afghanistan Gas Station
John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa hearing on Examining U.S. Reconstruction Efforts in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

By    |   Monday, 02 Nov 2015 10:03 AM

The Department of Defense poured $43 million into an "ill-conceived" project to build a gas station in Afghanistan — "an outrageous waste" of taxpayers' money and 140 times more than it should have cost, according to a government watchdog.

Even more troubling, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report was the Defense Department couldn't even explain why the compressed natural gas filling station was so expensive.

Although [the Task Force for Stability and Business Operations] achieved its immediate objective of building the CNG filling station, it apparently did so at an "exorbitant cost to U.S. taxpayers," Special Inspector General John Sopko writes in the report.

"In comparison, [the inspector general] found that a CNG station in Pakistan costs no more than $500,000 to construct. Furthermore, there is no indication [task force] considered the feasibility of achieving the station's broader objectives or considered any of the potentially considerable obstacles to the project's success before beginning construction."

In his blistering letter attached to the report to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, Sopko adds "the Department of Defense claims that it is unable to provide an explanation for the high cost of the project or to answer any other questions concerning its planning, implementation, or outcome."

"It's an outrageous waste of money that raises suspicions that there is something more there than just stupidity," John Sopko, the special inspector general, tells NBC News.

"There may be fraud. There may be corruption. But I cannot currently find out more about this because of the lack of cooperation."

NBC News explains that despite having abundant natural gas reserves, Afghanistan is still heavily reliant on importing petroleum products. The Downstream Gas Utilization project — overseen by the task force — was supposed to change that.

The aim was to build Afghanistan's first compressed natural gas filling station in the city of Sheberghan and help develop the commercial market for domestic natural gas, NBC News notes.

The inspector general's report found a feasibility study might have found Afghanistan lacks the distribution infrastructure to make such a market viable — and that converting cars from gasoline to CNG would be too expensive for most Afghans.

Yet a contract for just under $3 million was awarded to Central Asian Engineering in 2011, and according to the inspector general's report, an economic impact assessment found the task force spent well beyond that —$42,718,730 — between 2011 and 2014 to build the station and supervise its beginning operation.

Sopko told NBC News it appeared that "nobody was minding the store."

"This is one of the worst examples of poor planning and just sheer stupidity," Sopko tells NBC News. "It's outrageous."

"I'm suspicious when I see something that cost 140 times more than it did and I find people trying to withhold or not cooperate with me. It raises my suspicions."

Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Brian McKeon tells NBC News the Department of Defense isn't trying to hide anything.

"We're quite ready, willing and able to provide access to these records and we've made that plain to Mr. Sopko's office," he told NBC News. "We have a mandate under the law to provide access to documents and that's what we're doing."

But the inspector general's office report notes DOD responded to initial requests for information with a letter saying it no longer had the "personnel expertise" to address Sopko's queries because the Task Force was closed down in March 2015.

"They're saying they can't find anybody who knows anybody about this billion-dollar program? I've never encountered anything like this," Sopko tells NBC News. "It's pixie dust. It's sort of like — poof! The program disappeared and with it all recollection and memory."

"This was a horribly run, horribly managed program and it reported to the secretary of Defense … But just because its embarrassing doesn't mean you make the program disappear."

© 2017 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 
1Like our page
2Share
Newsfront
The Department of Defense poured $43 million into an "ill-conceived" project to build a gas station in Afghanistan - an outrageous waste of taxpayers' money and 140 times more than it should have cost, according to a government watchdog.
DOD, taxpayer, afghanistan, gas station
640
2015-03-02
Monday, 02 Nov 2015 10:03 AM
Newsmax Inc.
 

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved