— -- The Department of Defense is once again under fire for massive spending, this time for $150 million used to fund private housing and private security guards for some of its employees in Afghanistan.
On Thursday, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released its letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter asking for more information regarding the $150 million, which was authorized by the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO). According to SIGAR, the $150 million expense is nearly 20 percent of TFBSO’s budget.
News of the excessive spending comes just weeks after SIGAR reported that the Department of Defense spent $43 million to build a gas station in Afghanistan that should have cost around $500,000.
“SIGAR’s preliminary review indicates that TFBSO leadership rented specially furnished, privately owned ‘villas’ and hired contractors to provide 24-hour building security, food services, and bodyguards for TFBSO staff and visitors traveling in country,” the letter states.
SIGAR alleged that government employees could have lived on U.S. military bases, saving taxpayers “tens of millions of dollars.”
SIGAR included a statement from Paul Brinkley, former deputy under secretary of defense and TFBSO’s first director, in its letter. Brinkley, according to the letter, said the decision to not house employees on military bases was purposeful “to show private companies that they could set up operations in Afghanistan themselves without needing military support.”
Triple Canopy, a contractor paid $57 million from 2010 to 2014 to provide support services at TFBSO facilities, provided queen-sized beds in some rooms, flat screen TVs, DVD players, mini refrigerators, and “an ‘investor villa’ that had ‘upgraded furniture’ and ‘western-style hotel accommodations,'" according to SIGAR.
SIGAR noted that there were no studies done to see if TFBSO’s mission could have been carried out from U.S. military bases.