Three television production trucks purchased by the U.S. State Department to broadcast live sporting events in Afghanistan were delivered two years late and at triple the cost — another glaring example of taxpayer waste, a government watchdog agency says. The trucks finally arrived in July, and the total cost of shipping them ballooned to $3.6 million, according to a letter sent from the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Even worse, the Inspector General’s Office said, the trucks remain unused underneath tarps in Kabul. “If this information is accurate, it suggests that something is seriously wrong with the way this contract was managed,” Special Inspector General John Sopko wrote in the letter, which was made available Friday. He added that the State Department should cancel the contract with the vendor.
The contract, which was initially authorized in August 2011, stipulated that the trucks needed to have been delivered within 180 to 210 days. The primary use of the vehicles was for broadcasting sporting events, such as soccer, cricket and buzkashi, a type of horse polo involving dead goats.
The $3.6 million price tag is just a drop in the bucket compared to the more than $104 billion spent toward Afghanistan’s reconstruction since 2002. But a number of questionable purchases are piling up, SIGAR said. Earlier this month, SIGAR noted that 16 cargo planes to be used in Afghanistan and bought at a half-billion dollars were destroyed for scrap for just $32,000. The planes, it was discovered, were not suitable for the country’s dusty landscape.
— Erik Ortiz