State Department Wasted Millions To Boost Afghan Sports Coverage

U.S. taxpayers footed a $3 million bill years ago so the State Department could donate a couple of news trucks to Afghanistan to provide the country better sports coverage, but the trucks apparently remain unused.

Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko voiced his concerns about the apparently failed project in a recent letter to Secretary of State John Kerry:

“I am writing concerning a State Department contract to purchase three mobile television production trucks for donation to various Afghan television networks. Apparently, these television trucks were delivered more than two years late, the price of two of the trucks more than tripled, and they are now sitting under tarps in Kabul, still unused.”

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The original 2011 $6 million contract stipulated the company ship five trucks to the U.S. embassy in Kabul within 180 to 210 days. The embassy planned to donate them to Afghanistan to record live sporting events, including soccer and cricket.

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But in 2013 (well after the trucks should have been delivered), the contract was changed to a $3.6 million agreement to ship three trucks to the embassy. The three trucks have finally been delivered, but one was damaged in transit and another remains covered in shipping materials. None of them are in use.

And in the second contract, the price of two of the trucks somehow more than tripled, from $157,300 to $568,062.

“If this information is accurate, it suggests that something is seriously wrong with the way this contract was managed,” Sopko’s letter concludes. “If it is true that the State Department may still be able to cancel the contract for default, then it may be something State may wish to consider.”


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