WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.), the Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, delivered his weekly “Waste of the Week” speech and highlighted $150 million spent by the Task Force for Business Stability Operations, a Pentagon business advocacy agency, on villas in Afghanistan. Established in Afghanistan for a valid purpose – to encourage foreign investment – this task force spent millions on private housing for staff, instead of utilizing existing Department of Defense (DOD) bases.
According to a report by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the task force spent $150 million on “furnished, privately owned villas” and hired contractors to provide 24-hour building security, food services and bodyguards for staff and visitors. Additionally, the task force reportedly had access to on-site laundry service, food and drink services, private transportation, cultural advisors and housekeeping services.
“Contracting for security is one thing, but contracting for personal room service in a privately owned villa is a completely different story,” said Coats. “What the IG found was a lack of cost consideration, accountability and oversight.”
Coats said the IG report noted that the exorbitant costs of the villas are especially concerning because the task force staff could have lived at DOD facilities in Afghanistan “where housing, security, and food service are routinely provided at little or no extra charge to DOD organizations.”
More broadly, the IG noted that poor oversight and a complete lack of coordination with other agencies in Afghanistan caused so much friction that “even the U.S. civilian personnel most supportive of the Task Force’s activities” reported the need for oversight and coordination of the task force.
Click here to watch Coats speak on the Senate floor.