The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction (SIGAR) has hired a private corporation to help prepare government reports for Congress about US government contracts with other corporations in Afghanistan. The massive consulting firm Deloitte and Touche was hired on a one-year contract signed with the US Army’s Contracting Center of Excellence in May for $3.7 million. In the end, the contract could be worth up to $7.5 million, according to federal contract data reviewed by The Nation. In 2008, former Republican Congressman Tom Davis was hired by Deloitte as a director. Davis once chaired the powerful House Government Reform Committee.
As part of its work for SIGAR, according to contracts obtained by The Nation, the firm helps prepare the agency’s quarterly reports to Congress, assists in preparing Congressional testimony for agency officials and helps develop SIGAR’s responses to “questions for the record” from lawmakers.
SIGAR hired Deloitte “as an interim measure while we, as a new organization, built the internal capability we needed to provide the quality reports that the Congress requires,” SIGAR spokesperson Susan Phalen told The Nation. “The SIGAR quarterly reports require an extraordinary amount of detail and attention.” Phalen downplayed Deloitte’s role in preparing Congressional reports, saying they “have assisted the SIGAR staff on certain sections of the quarterly reports.”
Deloitte also plays a similar role for several other federal agencies, including preparing reports for the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. TARP was created by the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 and allows the US Treasury Department to purchase or insure up to $700 billion of “troubled assets.” Deloitte also works in a similar capacity for the US Agency for International Development and the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.
Danielle Brian, the executive director of the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight, sees a direct relationship between Deloitte’s increasingly prominent oversight role within the US government and the hiring of former Congressman Davis. “We saw an immediate growth in Deloitte’s contracts for oversight functions, especially for special inspectors general, when Davis left the Congress to go work for Deloitte,” said Brian. “It’s totally predictable. This is the kind of thing that he was encouraging while he was in the Congress. I think this is a real degradation of government.” She said Davis’s work with Deloitte is the “definition of the revolving door.”
SIGAR has come under fire recently from a bipartisan group of senators who have called on President Obama to “commence a comprehensive review” of the agency. “In light of the planned increase in the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, we have serious concerns that SIGAR currently may be unable to perform its mission at a time when the need for aggressive, independent oversight is greater than ever,” wrote Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republicans Susan Collins and Tom Coburn on December 8 to President Obama. The lawmakers specifically said that SIGAR has had “significant, ongoing difficulty in recruiting adequate, qualified staff.”