U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today sat down with the top U.S. watchdog in Afghanistan to discuss his recent agreement, which came after pressure from McCaskill, to enable the declassification of previously public information used in reports on taxpayer-funded efforts in Afghanistan. Earlier this year, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, John Sopko, had been forced to publish the first classified annex to oversight reports after the Resolute Support Mission classified information that had been unclassified for the previous six years.

McCaskill, a former Missouri State Auditor, also discussed with Sopko the Pentagon’s determination that U.S. efforts in Afghanistan require a new lead inspector general to coordinate oversight.

“Having public access to how taxpayer money is spent on overseas infrastructure is a critical tool to ensure we’re guarding against the waste and fraud that plagued these projects for too long,” McCaskill said. “John Sopko has been integral to that accountability in Afghanistan, and I was eager to speak with him about our ongoing efforts to maintain transparency, and to ensure that our oversight in Afghanistan is thorough and aggressive.” After pressure from McCaskill, the Pentagon recently agreed to declassify previously publicly available reports crucial to oversight of taxpayer-funded infrastructure projects in Afghanistan.

McCaskill also recently used a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to question General Lloyd Austin, commander of US Central Command, about the determination that the continued U.S. efforts in Afghanistan now require a new contingency operation, and therefore a new lead inspector general to coordinate oversight. McCaskill has led a successful effort to end hundreds of millions in taxpayer spending on unsustainable overseas projects, bring those resources home, and increase accountability for the remaining U.S.-Afghan projects.

Last year’s annual defense bill included McCaskill’s plan to prohibit taxpayer funding from use by the Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund, and to prohibit unsustainable projects that cannot be overseen by American personnel. During her first term in the Senate, McCaskill waged a successful six-year battle to rein in wasteful wartime contracting practices in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ultimately passed into law the most expansive reforms to wartime contracting practices since World War II.

(Courtesy of Senator Claire McCaskill Press)