By Pamela J. Bethel
Government contractors working in Afghanistan should be on notice that they are being scrutinized for possible fraud and corruption and could be excluded from bidding for contracts.
Eighty-one companies – some American and some international or Afghan – have recently been debarred from government contracts related to the war on Afghanistan, as the result of ongoing monitoring by a DOD-AID task force that is trying to reduce corruption associated with the war effort.
In an unclassified semiannual April 2012 report to Congress entitled “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan,” the Department of Defense, in conjunction with the State Department and other agencies, discussed all aspects of the Afghan situation.
One key topic in the report is corruption, which is known to be rife in Afghanistan.
“The United States has implemented a number of initiatives to support the Afghan Government in its efforts to reduce corruption and organized crime, while working to ensure the U.S. contracting resources and development assistance are not subject to fraud and corruption,” the report says. “A critical component of counter-corruption efforts is monitoring contract funds and property losses in order to deny power brokers, criminal networks, and insurgents the opportunity to benefit from stolen property or illicit revenue.”
In order to achieve these objectives, the joint DOD-AID task force, known as Task Force 2010, was established. It engages in a vetting project to identify vendors, before a contract is awarded, that show signs of corruption and fraud.
According to the report, as of the end of March 2012, the task force had reviewed nearly 1,200 high-value, high risk government contracts valued at about $27 billion in all. This process resulted in the debarment of 81 U.S., international, and Afghan companies. The report did not identify the companies.
As reported by Jill Aitoro in the Washington Business Journal, in addition to the work of Task Force 2010, NATO set up the International Vendor Vetting Office (IVVO) in December 2011. It reviews all contracts related to the Afghanistan effort to ensure that they are not awarded to companies influenced by criminal networks or insurgent organizations.