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How to waste $15 million

The Pentagon spent almost $15 million to build a warehouse at an airfield in war-torn Kandahar – after lengthy construction delays – that has never been used or occupied, according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. That price was $12 million more than the original estimate and the job was completed even after the Pentagon knew that it was no longer needed due to a policy change regarding American facilities in Afghanistan.

The five-year saga is almost a textbook example of how to rip off the government on a major contract in a distant country notorious for its corruption. On September 25, 2010, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $13.5 million fixed-price contract to a Turkish construction company partnership, YDA AFCON, to build the complex including four shipping and receiving warehouses, an administration building and some support facilities.

The facility, the completion of which was described as critical for the mission of the Pentagon’s logistics arm, was to be completed within 300 days. Yet more than two and half years later, most of the electric and plumbing work was still incomplete and the contract was terminated.

The completion of the outstanding tasks was then awarded to Arkel International LLC, an American company, for $844,526. Again, the job was subject to multiple delays. When it finally opened, it no longer served any need and was turned over to the Afghan government, which has yet to use it or occupy it.

US can’t locate about 80 percent of the health centers it funds in Afghanistan

One of the major problems besetting Afghanistan is the woeful state of its health care so the US Agency for International Development has spent about $259 million since July 2008 to fund health centers that provide everything from basic health services to midwifery education.

But the agency doesn’t really know how that money is being spent – since it doesn’t have accurate location information for about 80 percent of the 641 health care facilities funded by the program, according to a new audit by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Even worse, it’s very likely that the money was siphoned away and that about a quarter of the centers exist in name only – about 189 of them showed no physical structure within 4oo feet of the reported location coordinates, according to analysis of data and geospatial imagery. And a subset of 81 showed no physical structure within a half mile of the coordinates.

And the coordinates for one of the centers located it in the Mediterranean Sea.