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Thursday, February 29, 2024

GAO Hopes DOD’s New Contracting Approach Will Overcome Training Cost Concerns

The United States has made a commitment to building Afghanistan’s security and governance structure in order to counter terrorist threats and create sustainable security and stability in Afghanistan. Since 2005 Congress has appropriated more than $78.8 billion for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF) to build, equip, train, and sustain the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. Over that period, nearly $4.3 billion has been expended to support the training and operations of the Afghan National Army. Training requirements are primarily fulfilled through contracts. In recent years, concerns have been raised in Congress about the high costs of some of these training contracts.

The Joint Explanatory Statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, included a provision for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the ASFF training contracts.

GAO found that Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) has established processes to identify capability gaps within the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), develop and select training needed to address those gaps, and identify associated funding requirements. CSTC-A generally includes these requirements in the ASFF budget justification book. Many of the key decisions and associated cost assumptions on how CSTC-A and Train Advise Assist Command–Air (in the case of Afghan pilot training) intend to carry out ASFF training efforts are proposed 18-24 months before the training will occur.

ASFF-funded training contracts are developed and executed under a process modeled on the U.S. government’s foreign military sales program. GAO’s review found that prior to April 2019, most ASFF-funded training requirements were filled under a single-award indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract that supported a wide range of Department of Defense (DOD) training needs. An Army official told GAO that the contract’s broad scope and high contract value ceiling made it a highly expedient way to contract for various types of training for the ANDSF. However, contracting officials stated that using a single-award contract limited DOD’s ability to negotiate some costs. At that point, DOD began to transition to an approach using several contracts, including one with multiple providers.

GAO said in its November 18 report, that given that DOD executed its first task order under these new contracts in April 2019, it is too early for it to comment on the efficacy of this new approach.

DOD has varying degrees of visibility over ASFF-funded contracts. As part of the review, DOD officials told GAO that they have visibility at the broadest level of the overall execution of the ASFF budget, including funding associated with Afghan National Army training. GAO found that at the individual contract level, the military services’ contracting commands maintain contract files, but the services’ systems do not interface with one another. According to DOD officials, although DOD can obtain visibility over ASFF training contracts in the aggregate, the department must work with the contracting commands at the respective military services to gather information specific to training contracts.

Read the full report at GAO

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The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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