On January 15, 2015, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (“SIGAR”) released a new report, Department of Defense: More Than 75 Percent of All SIGAR Audit and Inspection Report Recommendations Have Been Implemented (“SIGAR Report”).  At 86 pages, the SIGAR Report might be expected to robustly catalogue and analyze how the Department of Defense (“DOD”) implemented the 209 recommendations made by SIGAR from January 2008 through June 2014.  Upon closer examination, however, that does not appear to be the case.  The SIGAR Report provides no definition or explanation of the criteria SIGAR uses to conclude that a recommendation was “implemented,” and it provides scant specifics about whether the outcome of any “implementation” can be seen as a success.

Most of the SIGAR Report is dedicated to providing supporting data for the following summary.

  • 161 of SIGAR’s 209 recommendations were “closed and implemented” by DOD.
  • 35 of the 209 were “closed but not implemented.”  Here, the SIGAR Report explains that:
    • For 15 of the 35, DOD provided insufficient evidence of implementation.
    • For 7 of the 35, DOD did not concur with the recommendation and/or took no action, so SIGAR believed that no further action would be taken.
    • For 7 of the 35, DOD did not take timely action.
    • For 6 of the 35, planned audit work “could supersede the recommendations.”
  • 13 of the 209 were still open and being monitored by SIGAR.

These 209 recommendations are further subdivided into nonspecific categories of “recommended actions” and “intended outcomes.”  For example, when categorizing “recommended actions,” SIGAR says that, overall, 40 of the 209 recommendations directed DOD to “conduct or improve current assessments or reviews”; 30 of the 209 recommendations directed DOD to “assess identified concerns regarding facility construction”; and so on.  Regarding “intended outcomes,” SIGAR says that, overall, 54 of the 209 recommendations were intended to “ensure accountability and oversight of funds”; 49 of the 209 recommendations were intended to “ensure facilities are safety constructed, completed, and used as intended”; and so on.

Beyond these data and nonspecific categories, however, the SIGAR Report does not address how SIGAR’s recommendations were implemented by DOD, or the actual results of DOD’s actions.  The SIGAR Report does note that seven of the implemented recommendations “resulted in up to $1.1 billion in savings or funds put to better use,” and that two others “resulted in the sustainment or recovery of more than $11.1 million of questioned costs or other potentially recoverable funds.”  Otherwise, though, the SIGAR Report does not explain how SIGAR’s recommendations actually were implemented, or why the outcome of any implementation should be considered a success or failure.  Without such detail, it is difficult to objectively evaluate SIGAR’s work.