Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley claims the State Department shows “contempt” towards taxpayers as it slowly addresses complaints from watchdogs about $40 million in questionable aid to Afghanistan over a period of decades.

In a letter to the State Department this week shared with Fox News digital, Grassley revealed that of the $40 million in aid that the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) had questioned, the department had only determined that $19,000 was allowable by law. According to the letter, $191,000 of the improperly spent aid was being returned to the government.

“In two years, that’s all you can show the taxpayer; this is unacceptable,” Grassley wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday. “Compliance with rules and regulations is a requirement, not an option, especially when dealing with taxpayer funds.

The State Department is one of many agencies that have been criticized for the billions of taxpayer money spent on Afghanistan reconstruction nearly two decades before the U.S. withdrawal in August 2021. SIGAR has tracked billions of dollars given to contractors or grantees to accomplish projects aimed at helping Afghanistan rebuild. Many of those projects failed or were improperly implemented.

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 10th Mountain Division stand security at Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. (Sgt. Isaiah Campbell/U.S. Marine Corps via AP) (Sgt. Isaiah Campbell/U.S. Marine Corps via AP)

Blinken was notified by SIGAR in a March 1 letter that the State Department had significantly delayed its response to the 2019 recommendations. SIGAR reported that the October 2019 report contained “nearly $40M in questioned costs, 20 instances in which laws or regulations were not followed, and 24 deficiencies with internal controls.”

Grassley stated that the list of funds was “extensive, embarrassing, and requires an urgent explanation.”

SIGAR was informed by the State Department that it would not compile responses for all recommendations in one report but would respond to each recommendation separately.

Grassley said that the State Department’s failure to address these recommendations for more than two years is a disgraceful act of contempt toward the taxpayers who paid for your activity.

Grassley asked for regular updates on the efforts to audit questioned costs. He also requested reasons for the delay of two years and records on the department’s efforts to collect the money that was improperly spent.

SIGAR noted in its March 1 letter that the State Department was generally helpful in “closing” old recommendations.

The State Department could be out of compliance with federal law if the 14 recommendations are not addressed.

“If this trend continues, the total questioned cost, instances of noncompliance, and deficiencies will only rise with additional financial audits, which will further magnify our concerns.” Moreover, the State will remain noncompliant with federal law and other requirements, failing to demonstrate sound stewardship of almost $40 million in U.S. reconstruction funds and not keeping commitments with SIGAR to be responsive to our audit recommendations,” SIGAR wrote.

The State Department did not immediately return Fox News Digital’s request for comment.





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