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Sep 23, 2010

Comments

Mike McComas

September 28, 2010

On-going efforts by Senators McCaskill, Coburn, Collins, and Grassley to remove Arnold Fields from the position of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) can only be deemed an outrageous distraction by the Senators, serving only to impede the retired Marine Corp General from fulfilling his mandate to Congress. As a result of the constant battering, the SIGAR has been forced to waste resources and manpower to defend the organization from these unfair criticisms. Resources that otherwise would be focused on the mission of the SIGAR.

An example of the despicable allegations and obvious political “witch hunt” is apparent in the letter to President Obama from the Senators dated September 23, 2010. A mention is made of a recent review of SIGAR by the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) where multiple deficiencies were made public on August 10, 2010. Although this statement is true in content, the Senators failed to tell “the rest of the story.”

A CIGIE review is typically conducted after the organization being inspected has been fully operational for a minimum of 18 months. SIGAR spent the first year of existence without proper funding from Congress thus preventing the necessary hiring of personnel. The SIGAR Investigations Directorate had only been operational for about six months when, as a result of constant disruptions by offices of Senators McCaskill and Coburn, the SIGAR was forced to prematurely request the CIGIE inspection in an attempt to quiet the wolves. In what can only be construed as an effort to distort the facts, the Senators did not mention the “multiple deficiencies” noted in the CIGIE final report were administrative in nature as opposed to operational. For example, the Investigations Directorate did not have an adequate Case Management System and did not adhere to administrative guidelines as suggested by CIGIE.

If Senator McCaskill, who is the Chairman of the Senate’s AD Hoc Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, is as concerned as she says about contracting and oversight in Afghanistan, why did it take the U.S. Congress until 2008 to stand up the SIGAR and 2009 to fully fund the organization when we had been in Afghanistan since 2002?

Also, on September 15, 2010, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) awarded a $490 million dollar contract to the Louis Berger Group (LBG). The awarding of this contract comes as the LBG is currently in court in New Jersey on charges of overbilling the U.S. Government on a $1.4 billion reconstruction contract in Afghanistan. Again, if Senator McCaskill were as concerned as she says why does she allow a company like LBG to continue to do business with the federal government? Is it not her responsibility as Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee to prevent this from happening? Or perhaps it has something to do with the LBG’s presence in Missouri, which just happens to be Senator McCaskell’s home state.

P. Michael McComas
Supervisory Special Agent, FBI – Retired
Deputy Assistant Inspector General (Investigations) SIGAR - Retired

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