House Passes Nolan Amendment to Prevent Fraud and Abuse in Afghanistan
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, the U.S. House passed by 325 to 98 an amendment by Minnesota’s 8th District Congressman, Rick Nolan, prohibiting funds in excess of $500,000 from being spent for Afghanistan reconstruction projects unless the Department of Defense can verify that the money will be used properly.
The Nolan measure, part of the approximately $600 billion FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R.4435) which passed the House today, requires the Department of Defense to submit a report to Congress assuring proper auditing and oversight for each Afghanistan reconstruction project at least 15 days before the funds are obligated.
Nolan explained that because U.S. troops in Afghanistan must stay within inspection zone boundaries that assure them quick access to medical care, they are unable to supervise and guarantee that funds for reconstruction projects throughout the entire nation are being used for purposes intended. Nolan said that up to $79 billion has been authorized for new construction projects, many of which may fall outside of the U.S. government’s scope of oversight.
“Since 2002, our government has spent more than $100 billion on reconstruction projects in Afghanistan and Iraq – some $60 billion of which the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction cannot account for. Afghanistan has no reliable banking system. Fraud and abuse is rampant, with story after story of truckloads of cash disappearing into the hands of corrupt officials, warlords, and criminals.”
“This is a terribly tragic situation for our troops who are put in harm’s way in Afghanistan – and an outrage for U.S. taxpayers,” Nolan continued. “And in the waning days of U.S. occupation, I am deeply concerned that we will obligate even more funds into areas of the country outside the inspection zones in which our troops and inspectors are permitted to operate safely.”
Nolan addressed the access issue in a speech on the Floor of the House prior to the vote. He pointed out that in 2009, U.S. government personnel in charge of auditing and inspecting reconstruction projects had access to more than 68 percent of the total area of Afghanistan. Today, that access has dwindled to less than 21 percent, and is shrinking rapidly as U.S. forces draw down and Taliban control continues to grow.
The Nolan amendment was supported by the nonpartisan Taxpayers Protection Alliance and 22 other organizations under the banner of the Project on Government Oversight.
Watch Rep. Nolan speak on the House Floor in support of his amendment: