SIGAR Finds Huge Problems With $300 Million Afghan National Police Payroll

SIGAR, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, has released a report (pdf) describing very disturbing problems with salaries for the Afghan National Police. The report concludes:

The U.S. government is spending more than $300 million annually for ANP salaries with little assurance that these funds are going to active police personnel or that the amounts paid are correct. ANP identification cards with unique numbers are the primary control mechanism to help protect against fraud and abuse, but they are not being used properly—including for attendance and payroll purposes—and there are almost twice as many cards in circulation as there are active police personnel. Further, after 9 years of effort, an electronic human resources system—critical for ensuring the proper personnel are being paid and paid the correct amount—has still not been successfully implemented. Despite lengthy and costly U.S. government attempts to implement this system, AHRIMS, and a payroll system, EPS, the two systems are still not integrated. This lack of integration serves to negate critical controls, such as the ability to reconcile personnel between systems, that should be in place to protect U.S. salary funding from waste and abuse. It is not surprising, therefore, that reports have disclosed inflated police rosters, payments being made to more police personnel than are authorized in particular locations, and police personnel receiving inflated salaries. Achieving full functionality and integration of these systems would only partially resolve existing problems. Such improvements would still not address concerns about low-level ANP attendance procedures or the integrity of the data once it leaves EPS for final salary payment calculations. Also of concern is the payment of ANP personnel in cash via trusted agents, as there are even fewer controls over these salary payments. The fact that as much as half of these payments are possibly diverted from intended recipients is alarming.

The U.S. government and international community plan to continue funding ANP salaries. Some requirements to help safeguard U.S. funds are in place, but neither CSTC-A nor UNDP are fully following them. U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) should enforce these requirements and—where there are accountability gaps—create new, binding procedures to better safeguard funds. USFOR-A, UNDP, and the MOI must do a better job of coordinating to ensure that ANP personnel numbers match on-the-ground realities and that their salaries are accurate and provided only to actively serving Afghan forces.

We learn from the report that the flawed ANP identification card program was developed by DynCorp, but I don’t see in the report where the equally flawed AHRIMS and EPS programs came from. The fact that after 9 years of trying, we still don’t have a basic system for “taking attendance” for ANP personnel on the job is staggering. As a result, the system is still rife for corruption at all levels as ghost employees can be put on the roles and their salary embezzled. Here is more detail on the corruption enabled by part of the payroll being disbursed in cash:

SIGAR found that nearly 20 percent of ANP personnel are at risk of not receiving their full salaries because they are paid in cash by an MOI-appointed trusted agent, a process that lacks documentation and accountability. CSTC-A and UNDP officials told SIGAR that there is limited oversight of trusted agents and a higher risk that funds may be subject to corruption. Further, CSTC-A reported that corrupt practices within the trusted agent system of salary payments “could take as much as 50 [percent] of a policeman’s salary.”

On a separate but highly related front, Afghanistan finally has announced the full roster of nominees for its cabinet. This move will fill 27 positions. Conveniently, TOLONews has broken those nominees down by where they came from. Thirteen were nominated by Ashraf Ghani and twelve by Abdullah Abdullah. Two are “neutral”, the head of security (who carries over from the previous government) and the head of the banking system.

Returning to the problems in the SIGAR report, ANP falls under the Ministry of the Interior, whose new leader, nominated by Abdullah Abdullah, will be Noor-ul-haq Ulumi. He is a former general as well as having served in the lower house of Afghanistan’s Parliament. He will face quite a challenge in implementing the changes that SIGAR suggests in its report.

5 replies
  1. bloopie2 says:

    “The fact that after 9 years of trying, we still don’t have a basic system for “taking attendance” for ANP personnel on the job is staggering.” Let’s assume it takes another 20-30 years of trying and training to get a working military there. Will that have happened because of our efforts, or because of the passage of time gradually bringing Afghanistan into the nineteenth century?

  2. Don Bacon says:

    A hundred million for training should cure the problem.
    Apr 29, 2014
    DynCorp International LLC, McLean, Va., was awarded a $49,898,634 modification (P00034) to cost-plus-fixed-fee contract W91CRB-11-C-0053 for mentoring and training in support of the Afghanistan Ministry of Interior and Afghanistan National Police. Work will be performed in Afghanistan with an expected completion date of Dec. 31, 2014. Fiscal 2013 other funds in the amount of $24,949,317 are being oblicated at award. The U.S. Army
    Contracting Command, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting agency.
    Dec 31, 2014
    DynCorp International, LLC, McLean, Virginia, was awarded a $52,145,079 firm-fixed-price contract to advise, train, and mentor the Afghanistan Ministry of Interior (MoI/Afghanistan National Police). This contract is for a nine-month base period with two three-month option periods. Work will be performed in Afghanistan, with an estimated completion date of March 31, 2016. One bid was solicited with one received. Fiscal 2015 other procurement funds in the amount of $26,072,540 are being obligated at the time of the award. Army Contracting Command, Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Illinois, is the contracting activity (W560MY-15-C-0006).
    So that’s about $6 million a month to DynCorp for training the ANP.

  3. Don Bacon says:

    Perhaps DynCorp can make the ANP less corrupt?
    Like foxes training other foxes to be chickens instead?
    WSJ, JANUARY 11, 2012
    Police Undermine Fight Against Taliban
    JANI KHEL, Afghanistan—In the American war against the Taliban, on whose side are the Afghan police? For many U.S. soldiers serving in the insurgent heartland, the answer is: both.
    “They smile to our face when we’re here, giving them money and building them buildings,” says U.S. Army Capt. Cory Brown, a provost marshal officer helping to oversee Afghan security forces here in volatile Paktika province. “But they’ve given insurgents money, food and even rides in Afghan police cars.”
    Worse, he says, some policemen are also suspected of selling their U.S.-provided weapons to the Taliban.

  4. Garrett says:

    We should launch some dumb program to very quickly ramp up the police force. Except they won’t be a police force, they will be lightly armed, undertrained, poorly paid, poorly educated, and very exposed infantry who will fight our war against the Taliban for us, and will die in large numbers.

    Then when our idea blows up, we can criticize them for their corruption.

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