IG: Problems in US justice program in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (AP) — An award made to an organization to promote the rule of law in Afghanistan does not appear to contain basic provisions that would allow the State Department to ensure proper oversight of a project expected to cost U.S. taxpayers $50 million, federal inspectors said Thursday.

In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said there were “serious deficiencies” in the government’s award to the International Development Law Organization, which is based in Rome, for the Afghanistan Justice Training Transition Program.

Special Inspector General John Sopko told Kerry that the award does not contain enough oversight requirements — a possible indication that the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is scaling back oversight of a program central to U.S. efforts to promote the rule of law in Afghanistan.

There was no immediate comment from the State Department.

On Dec. 27, the bureau offered the Italian organization $47.8 million in exchange for work on the latest iteration of the regional justice sector training efforts that it began in Afghanistan with the Justice Sector Support Program. That program has been implemented by Pacific Architects & Engineers of Arlington, Va.

The new contract called for the International Development Law Organization to replace the Virginia firm as the provider of regional training services to the Afghan justice sector, although Pacific continues to implement two other components of the program.

Sopko’s letter said his office “was disturbed to learn” that the International Development Law Organization agreement contained even fewer oversight requirements than the Pacific Architects & Engineers contract.

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