Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley has accused the State Department of showing “contempt” towards taxpayers as it slowly addresses watchdog complaints of $40 million in questionable aid to Afghanistan over the past decades.
Grassley’s concerns were laid out in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, where he emphasized the importance of compliance with rules and regulations when dealing with taxpayer money.
According to Grassley, the State Department’s sluggish response to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) is unacceptable.
Of the $40 million in questioned aid, only $19,000 was determined as allowable by law, and a mere $191,000 of improperly spent aid is in the process of being returned to the government.
The State Department is among many agencies facing criticism for billions in taxpayer money wasted in Afghanistan reconstruction over nearly two decades.
SIGAR has tracked billions of dollars given to contractors or grantees for projects aimed at helping Afghanistan rebuild, with many of those projects failing or being improperly implemented.
Grassley has requested rolling updates on the efforts to audit the questioned costs, along with reasons for the two-year delay and records on the department’s efforts to collect the improperly spent money.
SIGAR’s March 1 letter noted that the State Department was generally helpful in “closing” old recommendations but warned that the 14 recommendations that remain unaddressed could put the department at risk of being out of compliance with federal law.