The U.S. military did not effectively track half a billion dollars in funding for counter-narcotics programs in Africa, the Middle East and southwest Asia, and doesn't know if some individual, multi-million dollar initiatives were effective, completed or even got off the ground, according to a new government report.
The report, from the Pentagon Inspector General, said that during an audit for FY2014 to FY2016, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command provided inconsistent lists of counter-narcotics activities in their areas of responsibility along with inconsistent or non-existent budgetary figures for the programs.
The programs ranged from the construction of a border post facility in Uzbekistan for a cool $3.5 million to providing radio equipment to Senegal for $1 million -- though that figure was disputed by another spreadsheet that said the radio program cost three times as much, the IG said.
The IG said U.S. Africa Command provided two different spreadsheets for FY2014 activities -- one listing 55 activities with a total of $15 million in funds budgeted, and the other listing 134 activities with a total of $24 million in funds budgeted, obligated and expended.
Inspectors asked Africa Command officials about one listed program, the construction of a classroom in Niger, only to learn that the building was never built -- a fact not noted on the spreadsheets.
The subpar financial tracking, the IG said, not only makes it difficult to gauge the effectiveness of expensive programs, but, "[w]ithout reliable funding data, USCENTCOM and USAFRICOM also cannot track unused funds that could be used for other CN [counter-narcotics] activities, leaving potential activities unexecuted."
The IG said the unused money can seriously add up -- to at least $128 million between FY2014 and FY2016.
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