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entitled 'Military Operations: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight and 
Interagency Coordination for the Commander's Emergency Response Program 
in Afghanistan' which was released on May 18, 2009. 

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Report to Congressional Committees: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO: 

May 2009: 

Military Operations: 

Actions Needed to Improve Oversight and Interagency Coordination for 
the Commander's Emergency Response Program in Afghanistan: 

GAO-09-615: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-09-615, a report to congressional committees. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Defense (DOD) and 
the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have 
spent billions of dollars to develop Afghanistan. From fiscal years 
2004 to 2008, DOD has reported obligations of about $1 billion for its 
Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP), which enables commanders 
to respond to urgent humanitarian and reconstruction needs. As troop 
levels increase, DOD officials expect the program to expand. 

Under the authority of the Comptroller General, GAO assessed DODís (1) 
capacity to manage and oversee the CERP in Afghanistan and (2) 
coordination of projects with USAID. Accordingly, GAO interviewed DOD 
and USAID officials, and examined program documents to identify 
workload, staffing, training, and coordination requirements. In 
Afghanistan, GAO interviewed key military personnel on the sufficiency 
of training, and their ability to execute assigned duties. 

What GAO Found: 

Although DOD has used CERP to fund projects that it believes 
significantly benefit the Afghan people, it faces significant 
challenges in providing adequate management and oversight because of an 
insufficient number of trained personnel. GAO has frequently reported 
that inadequate numbers of management and oversight personnel hinders 
DOD's use of contractors in contingency operations. GAOís work also 
shows that high-performing organizations use data to make informed 
decisions about current and future workforce needs. DOD has not 
conducted an overall workforce assessment to identify how many 
personnel are needed to effectively execute CERP. Rather, individual 
commanders determine how many personnel will manage and execute CERP. 
Personnel at all levels, including headquarters and unit personnel that 
GAO interviewed after they returned from Afghanistan or who were in 
Afghanistan in November 2008, expressed a need for more personnel to 
perform CERP program management and oversight functions. Due to a lack 
of personnel, key duties such as performing headquarters staff 
assistance visits to help units improve contracting procedures and 
visiting sites to monitor project status and contractor performance 
were either not performed or inconsistently performed. Per DOD policy, 
DOD personnel should receive timely and effective training to enable 
performance to standard during operations. However, key CERP personnel 
at headquarters, units, and provincial reconstruction teams received 
little or no training prior to deployment which commanders believed 
made it more difficult to properly execute and oversee the program. 
Also, most personnel responsible for awarding and overseeing CERP 
contracts valued at $500,000 or less received little or no training 
prior to deployment and, once deployed, received a 1-hour briefing, 
which did not provide detailed information on the individual's duties. 
As a result, frequent mistakes occurred, such as the omission of key 
clauses from contracts, which slowed the project approval process. As 
GAO has reported in the past, poorly written contracts and statements 
of work can increase DODís cost risk and could result in payment for 
projects that do not meet project goals or objectives. 

While mechanisms exist to facilitate coordination, DOD and USAID lack 
information that would provide greater visibility on all U.S. 
government development projects. DOD and USAID generally coordinate 
projects at the headquarters and unit level as well as through military-
led provincial reconstruction teams which include USAID 
representatives. In addition, in November 2008, USAID, DOD and the 
Department of State began participating in an interagency group 
composed of senior U.S. government civilians and DOD personnel in 
Afghanistan to enhance planning and coordination of development plans 
and related projects. However, complete project information is lacking, 
because DOD and USAID use different databases. USAID has been tasked to 
develop a common database and is coordinating with DOD to do so, but 
development is in the early stages and goals and milestones have not 
been established. Without clear goals and milestones, it is unclear how 
progress will be measured or when it will be completed. 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO recommends that DOD evaluate workforce needs, ensure adequate 
staffing, and establish CERP training requirements, and that DOD and 
USAID collaborate to create a centralized database of project data, 
including milestones for completion. DOD concurred or partially 
concurred with GAO's recommendations, citing recent actions taken. GAO 
believes its recommendations remain valid. 

View [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-615] or key 
components. For more information, contact Sharon Pickup at (202)-512-
9619 or pickups@gao.gov. 

[End of section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Background: 

CERP Program Management and Project Oversight Is Hindered by 
Insufficient and Inadequately Trained Personnel: 

Availability of Personnel: 

Sufficiency of Training: 

DOD Lacks Visibility of Development Projects Being Undertaken By USAID: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

Appendix II: Comments from the Department of Defense: 

Appendix III: GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgements: 

Related GAO Products: 

Tables: 

Table 1: Fiscal Year 2008 CERP Projects in Afghanistan by Approval 
Authority: 

Table 2: Key CERP Management Activities at the Brigade Level: 

[End of section] 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

May 18, 2009: 

Congressional Committees: 

U.S. government agencies including the Department of Defense (DOD), the 
Department of State, and the United States Agency for International 
Development (USAID) have spent billions of dollars in Afghanistan to 
encourage economic development, improve governance, increase security, 
and positively influence the Afghan people. Chief among DOD's programs 
is the Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP). CERP is designed 
to enable local commanders in both Iraq and Afghanistan to respond to 
urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction requirements within their 
areas of responsibility. U.S. commanders have described CERP as one of 
their most critical weapons in the fight against the Taliban. Since the 
program's inception, DOD's funding requests for CERP have steadily 
increased in response to theater conditions, and reported obligations 
have grown substantially. Since 2004, DOD has reported total 
obligations of about $1 billion for CERP in Afghanistan, growing from 
$40 million in fiscal year 2004 to $486 million in fiscal year 2008. As 
of April 2009, Congress has authorized about $1.4 billion for fiscal 
year 2009 for CERP in Iraq and Afghanistan, of which DOD allocated $683 
million to fund CERP development projects in Afghanistan. As DOD plans 
to increase U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, some DOD officials 
expect the size and funding of CERP to further expand. 

According to DOD's Financial Management Regulation implementing the 
CERP, there are 20 authorized uses of CERP that include projects and 
activities to develop Afghanistan's transportation, electricity, and 
agriculture sectors. In addition, the regulation identifies 11 
unauthorized uses of CERP including duplication of services available 
through municipal governments.[Footnote 1] This regulation also 
identifies the roles and responsibilities for managing and executing 
CERP. For example, the Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) 
establishes principles, policies, and procedures to be followed in 
connection with CERP and oversees and supervises their execution. The 
Secretary of the Army serves as the executive agent and is responsible 
for developing detailed procedures necessary for commanders to carry 
out CERP in a manner that is consistent with applicable laws, 
regulations, and guidance. The Commander of U.S. Central Command 
(CENTCOM) is responsible for allocating CERP resources. Additional 
guidance in the form of standard operating procedures is provided by 
the Combined Joint Task Force in Afghanistan, which, at the time of our 
review, was Combined Joint Task Force-101 (CJTF-101).[Footnote 2] The 
CJTF-101 standard operating procedures expand upon DOD guidance. CERP 
duties are performed at the headquarters, Provincial Reconstruction 
Teams (PRT)[Footnote 3], brigade and unit levels and include 
identifying projects, preparing statements of work, awarding contracts, 
and monitoring projects during and after completion. 

We have previously reviewed various aspects of the CERP, including use 
of CERP funds for condolence payments in Iraq and Afghanistan as well 
as project selection, coordination, and monitoring in Iraq. In May 
2007, we reported that DOD needed to have greater visibility on the use 
of CERP funds for condolence payments.[Footnote 4] In June 2008, we 
reported on DOD's use of CERP funds in Iraq, emphasizing the need for 
DOD and commanders at all levels to have the information needed to 
determine whether projects are meeting the intent of the program, to 
assess program outcomes, and to be better informed about their funding 
requests.[Footnote 5] We recommended that DOD require units that 
execute CERP projects to provide project monitoring to ensure that 
contractors have met the contract specifications. In addition, we 
recommended that DOD take steps to gain greater visibility of projects 
costing less than $500,000, such as obtaining and reviewing summary 
information on the status of projects, completion rates, and the impact 
of projects on Iraqi communities. As a result of our reviews, DOD has 
taken actions to improve the CERP program. In addition, in July 2008, 
we reported on road reconstruction projects and recommended that the 
Secretary of Defense require that data for CERP-funded road projects be 
reported for inclusion in USAID's database, as required by CERP 
guidance.[Footnote 6] Further, we recommended that the Secretary of 
Defense require impact evaluations of CERP-funded road projects where 
applicable. DOD concurred with both recommendations and noted that it 
updated its June 2008 guidance to require that information on projects 
be included in all required databases. 

Due to significant congressional interest in this issue, we conducted a 
review of the CERP in Afghanistan under the authority of the 
Comptroller General to conduct evaluations on his own initiative and 
examined the following questions: To what extent (1) does DOD have the 
capacity to manage and oversee the CERP in Afghanistan and (2) has DOD 
established mechanisms to coordinate its CERP projects with USAID? 

To address these objectives, we identified and analyzed CERP guidance 
issued by DOD, CJTF-101, and Combined Joint Task Force-82 (CJTF-82) 
[Footnote 7]. We reviewed the guidance to determine if it established 
roles and responsibilities, as well as staffing and training 
requirements, for personnel assigned to manage and oversee CERP in 
Afghanistan. We interviewed officials from the Offices of the 
Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller), the Assistant Secretary of the 
Army (Financial Management and Comptroller), and USAID in Washington, 
D.C. We traveled to Afghanistan and spoke with officials at CJTF-101, 
brigade, and PRT levels, as well as officials from USAID and the Army 
Corps of Engineers. While in Afghanistan, we examined program documents 
to identify the nature and extent of the workload related to managing 
and executing the CERP and the training curriculum provided to 
familiarize personnel with the CERP. We also interviewed personnel at 
all levels to obtain their perspective on their ability to execute 
their assigned workload and sufficiency of training they received prior 
to deployment and upon arrival in Afghanistan. Additionally, we 
interviewed officials from CJTF-101 and CJTF-82 who had recently 
returned from Afghanistan to obtain the same type of information. We 
reviewed and analyzed the reported CERP obligations in the quarterly 
reports to Congress for fiscal year 2004 to fiscal year 2008 and 
interviewed officials about the data. We determined that the data are 
sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report. A more detailed 
discussion of our scope and methodology is included in appendix I. We 
conducted this performance audit from July 2008 to April 2009 in 
accordance with generally accepted government accounting standards. 
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that 
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and 
conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

Background: 

Afghanistan is a unique country with different development, security, 
and infrastructure issues and needs than Iraq. As a result, CERP 
efforts in Afghanistan are frequently focused on development and 
construction whereas in Iraq the focus of CERP is reconstruction of 
neglected or damaged infrastructure. The program has evolved over time 
in terms of the cost and complexity of projects, and the number of 
projects costing more than $500,000 in Afghanistan has reportedly 
increased from 9 in fiscal year 2004 to 129 in fiscal year 2008. As the 
program has matured, projects have become more complex, evolving from 
building small-scale projects such as wells that cost several thousand 
dollars to a boys' dormitory construction project that cost several 
hundred thousand dollars to building roads that cost several million 
dollars. For example, of the $486 million that DOD obligated on CERP 
projects in fiscal year 2008, about $281 million was for 
transportation, which was largely for roads. 

CJTF-101 guidance identifies the individuals authorized to approve CERP 
projects based on the estimated cost of the project (see table 1). As 
shown in the table, 90 percent of the CERP projects executed in 
Afghanistan in fiscal year 2008 cost $200,000 or less. 

Table 1: Fiscal Year 2008 CERP Projects in Afghanistan by Approval 
Authority: 

CERP project amount: Over $2 million; 
Approval authority: CENTCOM Commander or delegated representative; 
Number of Projects: 49; 
Percent of Total Projects: 2. 

CERP project amount: Over $200,000 to $2 million; 
Approval authority: CJTF-101 Commanding General; 
Number of Projects: 203; 
Percent of Total Projects: 8. 

CERP project amount: Over $25,000 to $200,000; 
Approval authority: Brigade Commander; 
Number of Projects: 1,134; 
Percent of Total Projects: 45. 

CERP project amount: $25,000 or less; 
Approval authority: Battalion or PRT Commander; 
Number of Projects: 1,111; 
Percent of Total Projects: 45. 

CERP project amount: Total; 
Number of Projects: 2,497; 
Percent of Total Projects: 100. 

Source: DOD and GAO analysis. 

Note: Data are from CJTF-101 September 2008 Guidance and GAO analysis 
of DOD reports to Congress. 

[End of table] 

Management and execution of the CERP program is the responsibility of 
officials at CJTF-101 headquarters, the brigades and the PRTs. CJTF-101 
personnel include the CERP manager who has the primary day-to-day 
responsibility for the program, a staff attorney responsible for 
reviewing all projects with a value of $200,000 or more, and a resource 
manager responsible for, among other things, maintaining CERP training 
records and tracking CERP obligations and expenditures. In addition, 
CJTF-101 guidance assigns responsibilities to the various staff 
sections such as engineering, medical, and contracting when specific 
projects require it. For example, the command engineering section is 
tasked with reviewing construction projects over $200,000, including 
reviewing plans for construction and project quality-assurance plans, 
and with participating in the CERP review boards. Similarly, the 
command's surgeon general is responsible for coordinating all plans for 
construction, refurbishment, or equipping of health facilities with the 
Afghanistan Minister of Health and evaluating all project nominations 
over $200,000 that relate directly to healthcare or the healthcare 
field. 

Brigade commanders are responsible for the overall execution of CERP in 
their areas of responsibilities and are tasked with a number of 
responsibilities including identifying and approving CERP projects, 
appointing project purchasing officers, and paying agents and ensuring 
that proper management, reporting, and fiscal controls are established 
to account for CERP funds. In addition, the brigade commander is 
responsible for ensuring that project purchasing officers and paying 
agents receive training and ensuring that all personnel comply with 
CERP guidance. Additional personnel in the brigade are tasked with 
specific day-to-day management of the CERP program for the brigade 
commander. Table 2 details the activities of key individuals tasked 
with executing and managing CERP at the brigade level. 

Table 2: Key CERP Management Activities at the Brigade Level: 

Position: Project Purchasing Officer (PPO); 
Activity: 
* Develops government cost estimate;
* Develops statement of work;
* Solicits bids and negotiates contracts including terms and costs;
* Signs contracts (if delegated that authority) for projects costing 
less than $500,000;
* Provides project oversight and verifies terms of contract have been 
met;
* Authorizes release of payment and closes out the contract;
* Maintains project files and required documents and obtains required 
signature/approvals during the project approval process. 

Position: Paying Agent (PA); 
Activity: 
* Draws funds from finance;
* Makes payments to vendors;
* Accounts for paid vouchers;
* Clears funds and vouchers with finance;
* Transports and safeguards CERP funds. 

Position: Unit CERP Manager; 
Activity: 
* Manages the day-to-day activities of CERP, PPOs and PAs;
* Coordinates projects with other U.S. government activities within the 
brigade's area of responsibility;
* Provides oversight of all projects. 

Source: DOD. 

Note: Data are from CJTF-101 standard operating procedures and Army 
CERP Smartcard for Leaders. 

[End of table] 

In addition to those tasked with day-to-day responsibility, others at 
the brigade have a role in the CERP process. For example, the brigade 
attorney is responsible for reviewing project nominations to ensure 
that they are legally sufficient and in compliance with CERP 
guidelines, and the brigade engineer is tasked with providing 
engineering expertise, including reviewing projects and assisting with 
oversight. 

DOD is statutorily required to provide Congress with quarterly reports 
on the source, allocation and use of CERP funds.[Footnote 8] The 
reports are compiled based on information about the projects that is 
entered by unit officials into the Combined Information Data Network 
Exchange, a classified DOD database that not only captures operations 
and intelligence information, but also tracks information on CERP 
projects such as project status, project start and completion date, and 
dollars committed, obligated, and disbursed. This database is the third 
database that DOD has used since 2006 to track CERP projects in 
Afghanistan. According to a military official, some historical data on 
past projects were lost during the transfer of this information from 
previous database systems. CERP information is now available in an 
unclassified format to members of PRTs and others who have access to a 
network that can be used to share sensitive but unclassified 
information. 

CERP Program Management and Project Oversight Is Hindered by 
Insufficient and Inadequately Trained Personnel: 

U.S. efforts to enhance Afghanistan's development is costly and 
requires some complex projects, underscoring the need to effectively 
manage and oversee the CERP program, including effectively managing and 
overseeing contracting as well as contractor efforts. During our 
review, we identified problems with the availability of personnel to 
manage and oversee CERP, as well as the sufficiency of training on 
CERP. 

Availability of Personnel: 

Although DOD has used CERP funds to construct roads, schools, and other 
projects that commanders believe have provided benefits to the Afghan 
people, DOD faces significant challenges in providing adequate 
management and oversight of CERP because of an insufficient number of 
trained personnel to execute and manage the program. We have frequently 
reported on several long-standing problems facing DOD as it uses 
contractors in contingency operations including inadequate numbers of 
trained management and oversight personnel.[Footnote 9] Our previous 
work has shown that high-performing organizations routinely use 
current, valid, and reliable data to make informed decisions about 
current and future workforce needs, including data on the appropriate 
number of employees, key competencies, and skill mix needed for mission 
accomplishment, and appropriate deployment of staff across the 
organization.[Footnote 10] DOD has not conducted a workforce assessment 
of CERP to identify how many military personnel are needed to 
effectively and efficiently execute and oversee the program. Rather, 
commanders determine how many personnel will manage and execute CERP. 
Personnel at all levels, including headquarters and unit personnel that 
we interviewed after they returned from Afghanistan or were in 
Afghanistan in November 2008, expressed a need for more personnel to 
perform CERP program management and oversight functions. Due to a lack 
of personnel, key duties such as performing headquarters staff 
assistance visits to help units to improve contracting procedures and 
site visits to monitor project status and contractor performance were 
either not performed or not consistently performed. 

At the headquarters level, at the time of our review, CJTF-101 had 
designated one person to manage the day-to-day operations of CERP. 
Among many other tasks outlined in the CJTF-101 CERP guidance, the CJTF-
101 CERP manager was responsible for conducting training for PPOs and 
PAs, providing oversight of all projects, ensuring proper coordination 
for all projects with the government of Afghanistan, validating 
performance metrics, ensuring that all project information is updated 
monthly in the command's electronic database and conducting staff 
assistance visits semiannually or as requested by brigades. Staff 
assistance visits are conducted to assist units by identifying any 
additional training or guidance that may be required to ensure 
consistency in program execution. According to documents we reviewed, 
staff assistance visits conducted in the past have uncovered problems 
with project documentation, adhering to project guidelines, and project 
tracking, among others. The CJTF-101 CERP manager we interviewed during 
our visit to Afghanistan stated that he spent most of his time managing 
the headquarters review process of projects costing more than $200,000 
and was unable to carry out his full spectrum of responsibilities, 
including conducting staff assistance visits. After our November 2008 
visit to Afghanistan, CJTF-101 added additional personnel to manage 
CERP on a full-time basis. 

Headquarters and brigade level personnel responsible for CERP also 
expressed a need for additional personnel at brigades to perform 
essential functions from program management to project execution. For 
example: 

* CJTF-101 guidance assigns a number of responsibilities for executing 
CERP, including project monitoring and oversight, to military 
personnel; however, according to unit officials we spoke with, tasks 
such as completing project oversight and collecting metrics on 
completed projects are often not accomplished due to a lack of 
personnel. In a July 2008 memorandum to CENTCOM, the CJTF-101 
commanding general noted that in some provinces, units have 
repositioned or are unable to do quality-assurance and quality-control 
checks due to competing missions and security risks. Furthermore, 
according to military officials from units that had deployed to 
Afghanistan, project oversight is frequently not provided because units 
lack the personnel needed to conduct site visits and ensure compliance 
with CERP contracts. For example, according to one CERP manager we 
spoke with, his unit was not able to provide oversight of 20 of the 27 
CERP projects because it was often difficult to put together a team to 
conduct site visits due to competing demands for forces. Similarly, the 
competing demands for forces made it difficult for units to visit 
completed projects and determine the effectiveness of the projects as 
required by CERP guidance. 

* CJTF-101 guidance also requires units to consult subject-matter 
experts, such as engineers, when required. However, military officials 
stated that there is a lack of subject-matter experts to consult on 
some projects. For example, military personnel stated that agriculture 
experts are needed to assist on agriculture projects. Moreover, more 
public health officials are needed. A commander from one task force 
stated that his soldiers were not qualified to monitor and assess 
clinics because they did not have the proper training. Furthermore, 
several officials we spoke with, including officials at the CJTF-101 
headquarters, noted that they needed additional civil/military affairs 
personnel to do project assessments both before projects are selected 
to determine which projects would be most appropriate and after 
projects are completed to measure the effectiveness of those projects. 
We recently reported that the lack of subject-matter experts puts DOD 
at risk of being unable to identify and correct poor contractor 
performance, which could affect the cost, completion, and 
sustainability of CERP projects.[Footnote 11] 

Sufficiency of Training: 

According to DOD policy, members of the Department of Defense shall 
receive, to the maximum extent possible, timely and effective, 
individual, collective, and staff training, conducted in a safe manner, 
to enable performance to standard during operations.[Footnote 12] CERP 
familiarization training may be provided to Army personnel before 
deployment; however, according to several Army officials, units 
frequently do not know who will be responsible for managing the CERP 
program until after they arrive in Afghanistan so task-specific 
training is generally not included in predeployment training. Others, 
such as PPOs, receive training after they arrived in Afghanistan. 
However, personnel assigned to manage and execute CERP had little or no 
training on their duties and responsibilities, and personnel we spoke 
with in Afghanistan and those who had recently returned from 
Afghanistan believed they needed more quality training in order to 
perform their missions effectively. For example: 

* One of the attorneys responsible for reviewing and approving CERP 
projects received no CERP training before deploying. Unsure of how to 
interpret the guidance, the attorney sought clarification from higher 
headquarters, which delayed project approval. 

* Personnel from a U.S. Marine Corps unit that deployed to Afghanistan 
reported that they received no training on CERP prior to deployment and 
believed that such training would have been helpful to ensure that 
projects they selected would provide long-term benefits to the 
population in their area of operation. 

* Army training on CERP consisted of briefing slides that focused on 
the authorized and unauthorized uses of CERP but did not discuss how to 
complete specific CERP responsibilities such as project selection, 
developing a statement of work, selecting the appropriate contract 
type, or providing the appropriate types and levels of contract 
oversight. Additionally, according to officials from brigades we spoke 
with in Afghanistan, they received little or no training on their CERP 
responsibilities after arriving in-theater. 

* Military officials from PRTs also noted that they received little 
training on CERP prior to deploying to Afghanistan and felt that 
additional training was needed so that they could more easily perform 
their CERP duties. 

* In some cases, personnel told us that working with their predecessors 
during unit rotations provided them with sufficient training. However 
not all personnel have that opportunity. 

Our reports as well as recent reports from others have highlighted the 
difficulties associated with contracting in contingency operations 
particularly for those personnel with little contracting experience. 
[Footnote 13] DOD's Financial Management Regulation allows contracting 
officers to delegate the authority to PPOs to obligate funds for CERP 
contracts for projects valued at less than $500,000.[Footnote 14] 
Additionally, PPOs are involved in other activities such as writing the 
statement of work for each project, ensuring that the project is 
completed to contract specifications, and completing contract close 
out. During our visit to Afghanistan, we observed PPO training provided 
by the principal assistant responsible for contracting in Afghanistan. 
The training consisted of a 1-hour briefing, which included a detailed 
discussion of CERP guidance but did not provide detailed information on 
the duties of the PPO. For example, according to CJTF-101 guidance, 
contracts are to be supported by accurate cost estimates; however, the 
PPO briefing does not provide training on how to develop these 
estimates. All of the contracting officers we spoke with believe that 
the training brief provided is insufficient and noted that unlike PPOs, 
who have less training but more authority under CERP, warranted 
contracting officers have at least 1 year of experience and are 
required to take a significant amount of classroom training before they 
are allowed to award any contracts. Moreover, some PPOs we spoke with 
stated that they needed more training. Military officials at both the 
brigade and CJTF-101 level told us that inadequate training has led to 
some common mistakes in CERP contracts and CERP project files. For 
example, officials from PRTs, brigades, and the CJTF-101 level noted 
that statements of work often are missing key contract clauses or 
include clauses that are not appropriate and require revision. A 
training document provided by the principal assistant responsible for 
contracting identified several important clauses that are commonly 
omitted by PPOs including termination clauses, progress schedule 
clauses, and supervision and quality control clauses. As we have 
reported in the past, poorly written contracts and statements of work 
can increase the department's cost risk and could result in the 
department paying for projects that do not meet project goals or 
objectives. Additionally, several officials at CJTF-101 with 
responsibilities for CERP also noted that project packages sent to the 
headquarters for review were often incomplete or incorrect, thereby, 
slowing down the CERP project approval process and increasing the 
workload of the CERP staff at both the headquarters and unit level. For 
example, the CJTF-101 official responsible for reviewing all projects 
valued at $200,000 or more noted that most of the project packets he 
reviewed had to be returned to the brigades because the packets lacked 
key documents, signatures, or other required information. Finally, the 
lack of training affects the quality of the oversight provided and can 
increase the risk of fraud. To illustrate, the Principal Deputy 
Inspector General Department of Defense testified in February 2009, 
that contingency contracting, specifically the Commander's Emergency 
Response Program, is highly vulnerable to fraud and corruption due to a 
lack of oversight. He went on to state "it would appear that even a 
small amount of contract training provided through command channels and 
some basic ground-level oversight that does not impinge on the CERP's 
objective would lower the risk in this susceptible area."[Footnote 15] 

DOD Lacks Visibility of Development Projects Being Undertaken By USAID: 

DOD and USAID participate in various mechanisms to facilitate 
coordination, but lack information that would provide greater 
visibility on all U.S. government development projects in Afghanistan. 
Teams have been formed in Afghanistan that integrate U.S. government 
civilians and military personnel to enhance coordination among U.S. 
agencies executing development projects in Afghanistan. For example, 
for projects involving roads, DOD and USAID officials have set up 
working groups to coordinate road construction and both agencies agreed 
that coordination on roads was generally occurring. Additionally, a 
USAID member is part of the PRT and sits regularly with military 
colleagues to coordinate and plan programming, according to USAID 
officials. Those same officials stated that this has resulted in joint 
programming and unity of effort, marrying CERP and USAID resources. 
Military officials we spoke with from several brigades also stated that 
coordination with the PRTs was good. Further, a USAID representative is 
located at the CJTF-101 headquarters and acts as a liaison to help 
coordinate projects costing $200,000 or more. Also, in November 2008, 
the Integrated Civilian-Military Action Group which consists of 
representatives from the Department of State, USAID, and U.S. Forces- 
Afghanistan was established at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, to help unify 
U.S. efforts in Afghanistan through coordinated planning and execution, 
according to a document provided by USAID. The role of the Integrated 
Civilian-Military Action Group, which is expected to meet every 3 
weeks, is to establish priorities and identify roles and 
responsibilities for both long-term and short-term development. Any 
decisions made by this group are then presented to the Executive 
Working Group-a group of senior military, State Department, and USAID 
officials-for approval. According to USAID officials, the Executive 
Working Group is empowered by the participating organizations to engage 
in coordinated planning and execution, provide guidance that 
synchronizes civilian and military efforts, convene interagency groups 
as appropriate, monitor and assess implementation and impact of 
integrated efforts, and recommend course changes to achieve U.S. 
government goals in support of the Government of the Islamic Republic 
of Afghanistan and of achieving stability in Afghanistan. 

Despite these interagency teams, military and USAID officials lack a 
common database that would promote information sharing and facilitate 
greater visibility of all development projects in Afghanistan. At the 
time of our review, development projects in Afghanistan were not 
tracked in a single database that was accessible by all parties 
conducting development in the country. For example, the military uses a 
classified database--Combined Information Data Network Exchange--to 
track CERP projects and other information. In early 2009, USAID 
officials were granted access to an unclassified portion of this 
database, providing them with information on the military's CERP 
projects including project title, project location, project 
description, and name of the unit executing the project, among other 
information. On the other hand, USAID officials use a database called 
GEOBASE to track their development projects, and there are a myriad of 
other databases used to track individual development efforts. USAID 
officials stated that they did not believe military officials had 
access to GEOBASE. However, in our 2008 review of Afghanistan road 
projects, we reported that there was a DOD requirement to provide CERP 
project information to USAID via the GEOBASE system to provide a common 
operating picture of reconstruction projects for U.S. funded 
efforts.[Footnote 16] We found that this was not being done for the 
CERP-funded road projects and recommended that DOD do so, to which DOD 
concurred. At the time of our review, the requirement to input CERP 
project information into that database was not included in the most 
recent version of the CJTF-101 standard operating procedure. In a 
memorandum to CENTCOM, the commanding general of CJTF-101 noted that 
data on various development projects in Afghanistan are maintained in a 
wide range of formats making CERP data the only reliable data for the 
PRTs. In January 2009, USAID initiated a project to develop a unified 
database to capture reliable and verified data for all development 
projects in Afghanistan and make it accessible to all agencies engaging 
in development activities in the country. The goal for the database is 
to create visibility of development projects for all entities executing 
projects in Afghanistan in a single place. However, plans are 
preliminary and a number of questions remain including how the database 
will be populated and how the database development will be funded. 
USAID officials told us that they have been coordinating with CJTF-101 
civil affairs officials about the development of the database and plan 
to hold a meeting in April 2009 to discuss recommendations for its 
development and to obtain input about the database from other U.S. 
government agencies. While USAID officials have conducted some 
assessments for the development of the centralized database, as of yet 
no specific milestones have been established for when that database 
will be complete. Without clear goals and a method to judge the 
progress of this initiative it is unclear how long this project might 
take or if it will ever be completed. 

Conclusions: 

The expected surge in troops and expected increase in funding for 
Afghanistan heightens the need for an adequate number of trained 
personnel to execute and oversee CERP. With about $1 billion worth of 
CERP funds already spent to develop Afghanistan, it is crucial that 
individuals administering and executing the program are properly 
trained to manage all aspects of the program including management and 
oversight of the contractors used. If effective oversight is not 
conducted, DOD is at risk of being unable to verify the quality of 
contractor performance, track project status, or ensure that the 
program is being conducted in a manner consistent with guidance. 
Without such assurances, DOD runs the risk of wasting taxpayer dollars, 
squandering opportunities to positively influence the Afghan population 
and diminishing the effectiveness of a key program in the battle 
against extremist groups including the Taliban. 

Although coordination mechanisms are in place to help increase 
visibility, eliminate project redundancy, and maximize the return on 
U.S. investments, the U.S. government lacks an easily accessible 
mechanism to identify previous and ongoing development projects. 
Without a mechanism to improve the visibility of individual development 
projects, the U.S. government may not be in a position to fully 
leverage the resources available to develop Afghanistan and risks 
duplicating efforts and wasting taxpayer dollars. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

We recommend that the Secretary of Defense direct the commander of U.S. 
Central Command to: 

* evaluate workforce requirements and ensure adequate staff to 
administer the CERP and: 

* establish training requirements for CERP personnel administering the 
program, to include specific information on how to complete their 
duties and responsibilities . 

We further recommend that the Secretary of Defense and Administrator of 
USAID; 

* collaborate to create a centralized project-development database for 
use by U.S. government agencies in Afghanistan, including establishing 
specific milestones for its development and implementation. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

In written comments to a draft of this report, DOD partially concurred 
with two of our recommendations and concurred with one. These comments 
are reprinted in appendix II. 

DOD partially concurred with our recommendation to require U.S. Central 
Command to evaluate workforce requirements and ensure adequate staff to 
administer the Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP). DOD 
acknowledged the need to ensure adequate staff to administer CERP and 
noted that since our visit, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan had added personnel 
to manage the program on a full-time basis. Because of the actions 
already being taken, DOD believed that no further action is warranted 
at this time, but stated it would monitor the situation and respond as 
required. Although steps have been taken to improve management and 
oversight of CERP in Afghanistan, we still believe that CENTCOM should 
conduct a workforce assessment to identify the number of personnel 
needed to effectively manage and oversee the program. As we described 
in the report, in the absence of such an assessment, commanders 
determine how many personnel will manage and execute CERP. As 
commanders rotate in and out of Afghanistan, the number of people they 
assign to administer and oversee CERP could vary. Therefore, to ensure 
consistency, we continue to believe that CENTCOM, rather than 
individual commanders, should assess and determine the workforce needs 
for the program. 

DOD partially concurred with our recommendation to establish training 
requirements for CERP personnel administering the program to include 
specific information on how to complete their duties and 
responsibilities. DOD acknowledged the need for training for CERP 
personnel administering the program and stated that since our visit, 
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan has begun work on implementing instructions to 
enhance selection processes and training programs for personnel 
administering the program and handling funding. Based on these efforts, 
DOD believed that no further action is warranted at this time but said 
it would monitor the situation and respond as required. However, the 
efforts outlined by DOD appear to be focused on training after 
personnel arrive in Afghanistan. Because our work also identified 
limitations in training prior to deployment, we believe that additional 
action is required, on the part of CENTCOM, to fully implement our 
recommendation. 

DOD concurred with our recommendation to collaborate with USAID to 
create a centralized project-development database for use by U.S. 
government agencies in Afghanistan, including establishing specific 
milestones for its development and implementation. 

USAID officials were given an opportunity to comment on the draft 
report. However, officials stated that they had no comments on the 
draft. 

We are sending copies of this report to other interested congressional 
committees and the Secretary of Defense and Administrator of USAID. In 
addition, this report will be available at no charge on GAO's Web site 
at [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you or your staff have any questions on the matters discussed in 
this report, please contact me at (202) 512-9619 or at pickups@gao.gov. 
Contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public 
Affairs may be found on the last page of this report. Key contributors 
to this report are listed in appendix III. 

Signed by: 

Sharon L. Pickup, Director: 
Defense Capabilities and Management: 

[End of section] 

List of Committees: 

The Honorable Carl Levin: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable John McCain: 
Ranking Member: 
Committee on Armed Services: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable Thad Cochran: 
Ranking Member: 
Subcommittee on Defense: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Ike Skelton: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable John M. McHugh: 
Ranking Member: 
Committee on Armed Services: 
House of Representatives: 

The Honorable John P. Murtha: 
Chairman: 
The Honorable C.W. Bill Young: 
Ranking Member: 
Subcommittee on Defense: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
House of Representatives: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Scope and Methodology: 

To determine the extent to which the Department of Defense (DOD) has 
the capacity to provide adequate management and oversight of the CERP 
in Afghanistan, we reviewed guidance from DOD, Combined Joint Task 
Force-101 (CJTF-101), and Combined Joint Task Force-82 (CJTF-82) to 
identify roles and responsibilities of CERP personnel, how personnel 
are assigned to the CERP, the nature and extent of the workload related 
to managing and executing the CERP, and the training curriculum 
provided to familiarize personnel with the CERP. We traveled to 
Afghanistan and interviewed officials at higher command, including 
those responsible for the overall management of CERP at CJTF-101, as 
well as commanders, staff judge advocates, project purchasing officers, 
engineers, and CERP managers about how they administered, monitored, 
and provided oversight to the program, what training they received, and 
how personnel assigned to administer and manage the program were 
chosen. We also interviewed personnel at all levels to obtain their 
perspective on their ability to execute their assigned workload and 
sufficiency of training they received prior to deployment and upon 
arrival in Afghanistan and attended a training session that was 
provided to Project Purchasing Officers (PPO). Additionally, we 
interviewed officials at the Office of the Secretary of Defense 
(Comptroller) and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army 
(Financial Management and Comptroller), as well as Marine Corps and 
Army units that had returned from Afghanistan about the type of 
management and oversight that exists for CERP and the quality of that 
oversight. We selected these units (1) based on Afghanistan deployment 
and redeployment dates; (2) to ensure that we obtained information from 
officials at the division, brigade, and Provincial Reconstruction Team 
(PRT) levels who had direct experience with CERP; and (3) because unit 
officials had not yet been transferred to other locations within the 
United States or abroad. 

In order to determine the extent to which commanders coordinate CERP 
projects with USAID, we reviewed and analyzed DOD, CJTF-101, and CJTF- 
82 guidance to determine what coordination, if any, was required. We 
also interviewed military officials at the headquarters, brigade, and 
PRT levels that had redeployed from Afghanistan between July 2008 and 
April 2009 to determine the extent of their coordination with USAID 
officials. We also met with USAID officials in Washington, D.C., as 
well as traveled to Afghanistan and interviewed officials at the CJTF- 
101 headquarters, brigade, PRT, as well as, USAID about their 
coordination efforts. 

We spoke with military officials about the database they use to track 
CERP projects-Combined Information Data Network Exchange (CIDNE)--and 
learned that some historical data on past projects was lost during the 
transfer of information from a previous database to CIDNE. However, the 
information is in the project files and had already been included in 
the quarterly reports to Congress. Therefore, we analyzed the reported 
obligations in the quarterly CERP reports to Congress for fiscal year 
2004 to fiscal year 2008 and interviewed officials about information 
contained in the reports. Based on interviews with officials, we 
determined that these data are sufficiently reliable for the purpose of 
this report. 

We visited or contacted the following organizations during our review: 

Department of Defense: 

Office of the Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller), Pentagon, 
Virginia: 
United States Central Command, Tampa, FL: 

[End of section] 

Department of the Army: 

Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management and Comptroller): 
United States Army Forces Command, Fort McPherson, Georgia: 
United States Army Central Command, Fort McPherson, Georgia: 
Combined Joint Task Force-101, Bagram and Jalalabad, Afghanistan: 
Combined Joint Task Force-82, Fort Bragg, North Carolina: 
173rd Airborne Battalion Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy and Bamberg, 
Germany: 

Department of the Navy: 

24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina: 

Other government agencies: 

[End of section] 

United States Agency for International Development, Washington, D.C. 
United States Agency for International Development, Kabul, Afghanistan: 
Department of State, Washington, D.C. 

We conducted this performance audit from July 2008 to April 2009 in 
accordance with generally accepted government accounting standards. 
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that 
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and 
conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: Comments from the Department of Defense: 

Under Secretary Of Defense
1100 Defense Pentagon: 
Washington, DC 20301-1100: 

May 13, 2009: 

Sharon L. Pickup: 
Director, Defense Capabilities and Management: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street, N.W. 
Washington, DC 20548: 

Dear Ms. Pickup: 

This is the Department of Defense response to the Government 
Accountability Office (GAO) draft Report, GAO-09-615, "Military 
Operations: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight and Interagency 
Coordination for Commander's Emergency Response Program in Afghanistan" 
(GAO Code 351244), dated April 17, 2009. 

The Department appreciates the opportunity to comment on this draft 
report. In our enclosed response, we cite actions planned and already 
underway to address the GAO recommendations. We also would like to 
highlight that the report does not cite any negative outcome on 
specific projects or categories of projects caused by the issues raised 
as findings in the report. The Department will continue to monitor the 
issues raised and respond as required. Thank you for the opportunity to 
respond to this proposed report. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

Robert F. Hale: 

Enclosure: As stated: 

[End of letter] 

GAO Draft Report - Dated April 17, 2009: 
GAO Code 351244 /GAO-09-615: 

"Military Operations: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight and 
Interagency Coordination for Commander's Emergency Response Program in 
Afghanistan" 

Department Of Defense Comments To The Recommendations: 

Recommendation 1: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Commander, U.S. Central Command to evaluate workforce 
requirements and ensure adequate staff to administer the Commander's 
Emergency Response Program. 

DOD Response: Partially Concur: The Department acknowledges the need to 
ensure adequate staff to administer the Commander's Emergency Response 
Program. Given the anticipated increase in demand for projects in 
Afghanistan, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan recognized the need for additional 
personnel and, as cited in the report (page 9), personnel have been 
added to manage the program on a full-time basis since the GAO visit. 
Based on the actions already being taken, the Department does not 
believe direction to the Commander, U.S. Central Command for further 
action is warranted at this time, but will monitor the situation and 
respond, as required. 

Recommendation 2: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense 
direct the Commander, U.S. Central Command to establish training 
requirements for the Commander's Emergency Response Program personnel 
administering the program to include specific information on how to 
complete their duties and responsibilities. 

DOD Response: Partially Concur: The Department acknowledges the need 
for training for the Commander's Emergency Response Program personnel 
administering the program. Personnel receive training in country as 
acknowledged in the report (page 11). Since the GAO visit, however, 
U.S. Forces-Afghanistan has begun work on implementing instructions to 
enhance selection processes and training programs for personnel 
administering the program and handling funding. Based on the actions 
already being taken, the Department does not believe direction to the 
Commander, U.S. Central Command for further action is warranted at this 
time, but will monitor the situation and respond, as required. 

Recommendation 3: The GAO recommends that the Secretary of Defense and 
the Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development 
collaborate to create a centralized project development database for 
use by U.S. Government agencies in Afghanistan, including establishing 
specific milestones for its development and implementation. 

DOD Response: Concur: The Department will work with the U.S. Agency for 
International Development to collaborate to create a centralized 
project database for use by U.S. Government agencies in Afghanistan, 
including establishing specific milestones for its development and 
implementation.
[End of section] 

Appendix III: GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgements: 

GAO Contact: 

Sharon Pickup, (202) 512-9619 or pickups@gao.gov: 

Acknowledgements: 

In addition to the contact named above, Carole Coffey, Assistant 
Director; Susan Ditto, Rodney Fair, Karen Nicole Harms, Ron La Due 
Lake, Marcus Oliver, and Sonja Ware made key contributions to this 
report. 

[End of section] 

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2007. 

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[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] Department of Defense Financial Management Regulation 7000.14-R, 
Volume 12, Chapter 27, Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP) 
(January 2009). This is an update to previously issued guidance. 

[2] CJTF-101, the Afghanistan equivalent to the Multinational Corps- 
Iraq, was the tactical unit responsible for command and control of 
operations throughout Afghanistan during our review. 

[3] These teams are designed to help improve stability in Afghanistan 
by increasing the country's capacity to govern. They serve as a means 
of coordinating interagency diplomatic, economic, reconstruction and 
counterinsurgency efforts among various U.S. agencies in Afghanistan. 
The teams are staffed with both military and civilian personnel. 

[4] GAO, Military Operations: The Department of Defense's Use of 
Solatia and Condolence Payments in Iraq and Afghanistan, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-699] (Washington, D.C.: May 23, 
2007). 

[5] GAO, Military Operations: Actions Needed to Better Guide Project 
Selection for Commander's Emergency Response Program and Improve 
Oversight in Iraq, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-736R] 
(Washington, D.C.: June 23, 2008). 

[6] GAO, Afghanistan Reconstruction: Progress Made in Constructing 
Roads, but Assessments for Determining Impact and a Sustainable 
Maintenance Program Are Needed, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-689] (Washington, D.C.: July 8, 
2008). 

[7] Combined Joint Task Force-82 (CJTF-82) was the tactical unit 
responsible for command and control of operations throughout 
Afghanistan prior to CJTF-101. 

[8] Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 
2009, Pub. L. No. 110-417, ß1214 (2008). 

[9] GAO, Defense Logistics: The Army Needs to Implement Effective 
Management and Oversight Plan for the Equipment Maintenance Contract in 
Kuwait, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-316R] 
(Washington, D.C.: Jan. 22, 2008); GAO, Stabilizing and Rebuilding 
Iraq: Actions Needed to Address Inadequate Accountability over U.S. 
Efforts and Investments, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-568T] (Washington, D.C: Mar. 11, 
2008); GAO, Military Operations: DOD Needs to Address Contract 
Oversight and Quality Assurance Issues for Contracts Used to Support 
Contingency Operations, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-1087] (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 26, 
2008); GAO, Military Operations: High-Level DOD Action Needed to 
Address Long-standing Problems with Management and Oversight of 
Contractors Supporting Deployed Forces, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-145] (Washington, D.C: Dec. 18, 
2006). 

[10] GAO, Exposure Draft: A Model of Strategic Human Capital 
Management, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-02-373SP], 
(Washington, D.C.: Mar. 2002). 

[11] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-736R]. 

[12] Department of Defense Directive 1322.18, Military Training (Jan. 
13, 2009). 

[13] GAO, Military Operations: Implementation of Existing Guidance and 
Other Actions Needed to Improve DOD's Oversight and Management of 
Contractors in Future Operations, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-436T] (Washington, D.C.: Jan. 2008); 
GAO, Rebuilding Iraq: DOD and State Department Have Improved Oversight 
and Coordination of Private Security Contractors in Iraq, but Further 
Actions Are Needed to Sustain Improvements, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-966] (Washington, D.C.: July 31, 
2008); Commission on Army Acquisition and Program Management in 
Expeditionary Operations, Urgent Reform Required: Army Expeditionary 
Contracting (Oct. 31, 2007); Congressional Research Service, Defense 
Contracting in Iraq: Issues and Options for Congress (Washington, D.C.: 
May 21, 2008). 

[14] According to section 270313 of DOD Financial Management 
Regulation, PPO's can, upon completion of training and receipt of 
written delegation from a warranted contracting officer, obligate funds 
for CERP projects costing less than $500,000. The regulation is not 
specific on the type of training PPOs must receive. 

[15] Thomas F. Gimble, Principal Deputy Inspector General, Department 
of Defense, before the Commission on Wartime Contracting, Oversight of 
Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan: (Feb. 2, 2009. The 
Commission was established by Congress to assess a number of factors 
related to wartime contracting, including the extent of waste, fraud, 
abuse, and mismanagement of wartime contracts. 

[16] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-689]. 

[End of section] 

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