[Senate Prints 113-29]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]



113th Congress   }                              {
 2d Session      }         COMMITTEE PRINT      {             S. Prt.
                                                              113-29
_______________________________________________________________________

 
                       AFGHANISTAN IN TRANSITION:

                       U.S. CIVILIAN PRESENCE AND

                          ASSISTANCE POST-2014

                               __________

                        A MAJORITY STAFF REPORT

                      PREPARED FOR THE USE OF THE

                     COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS

                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                    One Hundred Thirteenth Congress

                             Second Session

                            October 27, 2014

                                     


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                COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS         

             ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey, Chairman        
BARBARA BOXER, California            BOB CORKER, Tennessee
BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, Maryland         JAMES E. RISCH, Idaho
JEANNE SHAHEEN, New Hampshire        MARCO RUBIO, Florida
CHRISTOPHER A. COONS, Delaware       RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin
RICHARD J. DURBIN, Illinois          JEFF FLAKE, Arizona
TOM UDALL, New Mexico                JOHN McCAIN, Arizona
CHRISTOPHER MURPHY, Connecticut      JOHN BARRASSO, Wyoming
TIM KAINE, Virginia                  RAND PAUL, Kentucky
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
               Daniel E. O'Brien, Staff Director        
        Lester E. Munson III, Republican Staff Director        

                             (ii)          




                            C O N T E N T S

                              ----------                              
                                                                   Page
Letter of Transmittal............................................     v

Executive Summary and Recommendations............................     1

Introduction.....................................................     5

I. Enhanced Accountability for U.S. Assistance...................     7

    The TMAF as a Mechanism for Incentivized Assistance..........     7

    Improving Afghanistan's Capacity to Budget and Collect 
      Revenue....................................................     8

    Enhancing Women's Political, Economic, and Social Rights.....     9

    Renewed Efforts to Address Corruption and Stem Afghanistan's 
      Illicit Economy............................................     9

    The Afghan National Security Forces and Protection of Human 
      Rights.....................................................    10

II. A Refined U.S. Civilian Assistance Approach..................    12

    Sustainability of U.S. Investments...........................    12

    Direct ``On-Budget'' Government Assistance...................    13

    Lessons Learned and Interagency Information Sharing..........    14

    Monitoring Program Implementation............................    15

    New Silk Road Initiative.....................................    16

III. Robust U.S. Diplomatic Posture and Civilian Presence........    17

    Civilian Staffing............................................    18

    The Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program.....................    18

    Promoting Regional Connectivity: The New Silk Road 
      Initiative; Office of the Special Representative for 
      Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP); and USAID's Office of 
      Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs...........................    19

                                 (iii)
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                         LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

                              ----------                              

                              United States Senate,
                            Committee on Foreign Relations,
                                  Washington, DC, October 27, 2014.
    Dear colleagues: This report by the committee's majority 
staff examines the U.S. assistance and diplomatic approach to 
Afghanistan amid the security and political transitions taking 
place in the country. As we enter this new phase, it is 
critical that the United States reexamine its presence in 
Afghanistan to ensure that assistance is provided in the most 
efficient, cost effective, and sustainable manner possible.
    The U.S. has sacrificed greatly in Afghanistan in terms of 
blood and treasure. Our policy and programming objectives 
moving forward should focus on sustaining the measurable 
developmental gains we have achieved, and ensuring that the new 
Afghan government effectively continues on a path of self-
reliance and democratic development.
    Later this year, international donors will meet with the 
new Afghan government to discuss assistance to the country. 
This report is meant to inform those deliberations and other 
engagements with the new Afghan government to combat corruption 
and bolster efforts to ensure that U.S. tax dollars are spent 
wisely. It is equally important that the benchmarks for 
strengthening rule of law and women's rights are reinforced by 
the Afghan government and the international community.
    This report examines increasing accountability for U.S. 
assistance, refining the U.S. assistance approach, and creating 
a more robust U.S. diplomatic posture and civilian presence, 
and offers a series of recommendations for the U.S. Government 
as it engages the new government in Kabul and contends with the 
remaining security and development challenges across the 
country.
            Sincerely,
                                           Robert Menendez,
                                                          Chairman.

                                  (v)



 AFGHANISTAN IN TRANSITION: U.S. CIVILIAN PRESENCE AND ASSISTANCE POST-
                                  2014

                              ----------                              


                 Executive Summary and Recommendations

    As the international community draws down its forces, 
Afghanistan will experience historic political and security 
transitions that will set the course for the country's future. 
The political unity government established by President Ashraf 
Ghani Ahmadzai and CEO Abdullah Abdullah creates a framework 
for progress, and both leaders must work to fully implement all 
elements of the deal. While the 2014 presidential election 
process was contentious and difficult, there is reason for 
optimism as the new Afghan government takes steps to establish 
credibility with its people and international partners. The 
immediate signing of a Bilateral Security Agreement with the 
United States was an important first step in the right 
direction, but many important challenges lie ahead.
    The political and security transitions provide an important 
inflection point to reexamine how the U.S. resources its 
efforts in Afghanistan. This report examines increasing 
accountability for U.S. assistance, refining the U.S. 
assistance approach, and creating a more robust U.S. diplomatic 
posture and civilian presence, and offers a series of 
recommendations for the USG as it prepares to engage the new 
government in Kabul.


             i. enhanced accountability for u.s. assistance


    U.S. political support for assistance to Afghanistan has 
diminished in recent years, even though precipitous cuts in 
funding could have a destabilizing effect on the country. To 
maintain support for future funding, key accountability 
measures must be strengthened. The Tokyo Mutual Accountability 
Framework (TMAF), despite its shortfalls, provides a foundation 
for dialogue with the new Afghan government on reform and 
accountability for international assistance. The U.S. must now 
work with the new Afghan government to refocus the TMAF hard 
deliverables in ways that will best position Afghanistan to 
address its long term challenges. The U.S. should also 
condition a higher percentage of its funding: if done properly 
by ensuring Afghan buy-in, conditioning U.S. assistance can 
improve the accountability of our aid, strengthen reformers and 
institutions in the Afghan government and result in better 
development outcomes. Finally, increasing reports of abuses by 
the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are a worrying 
trend. With fewer U.S. personnel on the ground and with 
tremendous amounts of U.S. assistance going to the ANSF, the 
U.S. must identify new ways to ensure that any security force 
abuses are properly investigated, documented, and prosecuted.
Recommendations
   Increase Incentives: A higher proportion of U.S. assistance 
        should be conditioned based on specific reforms by the 
        Afghan government. The U.S. should make clear to the 
        new government that the appointment process factors 
        into how the U.S. allocates assistance.

   Refocus Reform Priorities: The U.S. has set aside $100 
        million in a reform incentive fund for the Afghan 
        government. The following reforms should be prioritized 
        in conversations with the Afghan government:

                   Enhanced Budgeting and Revenue 
                Collection to include:

                           Developing uniform and 
                        consistent methods to collect and 
                        report data on customs collection;
                           Fully deploying electronic 
                        payment systems at all customs 
                        collection locations; and
                           Swiftly implementing a 
                        value added tax and improving the 
                        transparency of contracts in 
                        legislation regulating the mining 
                        sector.

                   Support for Women's Political, 
                Economic, and Social Rights to include:

                           Fully implementing the 
                        Elimination of Violence Against Women 
                        (EVAW) law and the National Action Plan 
                        for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA), 
                        as well as reforming laws that 
                        discriminate against women;
                           Committing to developing 
                        the capacity and empowering the 
                        Ministry for Women's Affairs (MOWA); 
                        and
                           Creating a more robust 
                        shelter system for Afghan women.
                   Renew Efforts to Address Corruption and 
                the Illicit Economy to include:

                           Adopting pending anti-
                        corruption legislation;
                           Appointing genuine 
                        reformers to positions within key 
                        ministries;
                           Recovering stolen Kabul 
                        Bank assets and prosecuting those 
                        responsible;
                           Strengthening the Afghan 
                        Monitoring and Evaluation Committee 
                        (MEC); and
                           Curbing poppy cultivation 
                        and production.

           Security Assistance and Protecting Human Rights: 
        Robust U.S. support for the Afghan National Security 
        Forces (ANSF) will be contingent on respect for human 
        rights. The State Department's Bureau for Democracy, 
        Human Rights and Labor (DRL) must be actively engaged 
        at every step in the process of determining the 
        suitability of security assistance recipients. Economic 
        Support Fund assistance for Afghanistan should include 
        at least $10 million for DRL grants to Afghan 
        organizations for conducting oversight of the security 
        sector. Given the scale of assistance and concerns 
        about robust oversight, this report also recommends an 
        interagency review mechanism to address reported rights 
        abuses.


            ii. a refined u.s. civilian assistance approach


    In 2011, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee majority 
staff released a report on civilian assistance to Afghanistan 
that called upon the USG to implement assistance programs that 
were necessary, achievable, and sustainable. This 
recommendation holds true today, and though the USG has taken a 
more strategic approach, several concerns remain. First, given 
Afghanistan's limited resources, sustainability of development 
projects is an ongoing and significant challenge. Second, a 
comprehensive interagency effort to assess lessons learned from 
stabilization projects must take place in short order. Third, 
there is an imperative to support the capacity of the Afghan 
government, but serious corruption continues to hamper progress 
and support for direct assistance to ministries. Fourth, with 
the military drawdown, it will be more difficult to monitor 
development projects. Finally, Afghanistan's future lies in 
good economic relations with its neighbors. While the U.S. 
Government is focused on a ``New Silk Road'' initiative to help 
build critical economic links between Afghanistan and its 
neighbors, there have been modest resources committed to this 
task, particularly in Central Asia.
Recommendations
   Sustainability: The State Department and USAID should 
        produce detailed plans for the sustainability of 
        assistance programs in Afghanistan, without which 
        Congress cannot make fully informed funding decisions. 
        If there is not a clear plan for how program 
        activities--especially infrastructure projects--can 
        eventually be sustained by Afghans, USAID should not 
        implement them.
   Lessons Learned and Interagency Information Sharing: There 
        must be an interagency assessment of the efficacy of 
        U.S. funded large-scale infrastructure projects and 
        stabilization programs, including whether such programs 
        achieved their stated goals, the challenges associated 
        with civilian-military cooperation, and the unintended 
        consequences of such programming in a conflict 
        environment. The Department of Defense and USAID should 
        also establish criteria whereby information on 
        development projects implemented by the military can be 
        safely transferred and included in the Afghan Info 
        database.
   On-Budget Assistance: The U.S. must increase efforts to 
        bolster the capacity of Afghan governing institutions 
        through direct on-budget assistance to Afghan 
        ministries. USAID should also enhance the capacity of 
        government watchdog organizations that can further 
        scrutinize the work of government ministries receiving 
        on-budget assistance.
   Tiered Monitoring: The State Department and USAID should 
        provide regular reports to Congress on the challenges 
        of monitoring assistance programs in insecure 
        environments. Programs that cannot be sufficiently 
        monitored should be terminated.
   The New Silk Road Initiative: The State Department should 
        invest more sustained senior level engagement and 
        funding to realize the goals of the New Silk Road 
        initiative, including utilizing up to $150 million in 
        Afghanistan Economic Support Fund assistance to bolster 
        economic connectivity between Afghanistan and its 
        neighbors in the region. Planning for Fiscal Years 2015 
        and 2016 should be reviewed to ensure the dedication of 
        adequate resources towards these objectives. The State 
        Department and USAID should also look to better 
        integrate the NSR initiative with its democracy and 
        governance goals in the broader region.


       iii. robust u.s. diplomatic posture and civilian presence


    Through these transitions, the U.S. must maintain a robust 
diplomatic and assistance presence in the country, despite 
being hindered by bureaucratic structures that could impede 
policy goals. U.S. implementing agencies continue to face the 
loss of institutional knowledge due to a high turnover rate 
among diplomats and aid workers and the loss of critical Afghan 
expertise due to the Special Immigrant Visa program. In 
addition, while the State Department touts the importance of 
regional economic integration and development through the New 
Silk Road initiative, Afghanistan and Pakistan remain 
bureaucratically separated from the South and Central Asia 
Bureau at the State Department and the Asia Bureau at USAID. 
Finally, the USG's long term vision for engagement in 
Afghanistan and the broader region remains unclear--maintaining 
support for sustained U.S. engagement requires that the 
administration clearly state and make the case for U.S. 
interests in Afghanistan and the broader South and Central Asia 
region.
Recommendations
   Communicating the Policy: The U.S. Government should 
        clearly state the critical national security interests 
        in Afghanistan to the American public and work to 
        generate support for continued robust engagement. The 
        USG should work to reassure Afghanistan and our allies 
        in the region that the U.S. remains committed to the 
        security and economic prosperity of South and Central 
        Asia.
   Personnel: The State Department and USAID should institute 
        staffing measures that ensure more continuity in 
        diplomatic and assistance engagements, including more 
        incentives for diplomats and aid workers to serve 
        extended tours.
   Special Immigrant Visas: As the drawdown of U.S. troops 
        continues, the State Department should accelerate the 
        SIV process to prevent any unnecessary backlog of 
        applicants. The U.S. Congress should expand the number 
        of Special Immigrant Visas offered to Afghan staff that 
        have worked for the U.S. and extend the program through 
        the end of 2016. Future authorizing legislation on SIVs 
        should also allow for newly arrived SIV recipients to 
        work in the U.S. for the State Department, USAID or 
        other agencies working to support U.S. interests in 
        Afghanistan. The USG should identify creative ways to 
        ensure that SIV recipients' knowledge and expertise is 
        captured to ensure continuity of effort.
   Promoting Regional Integration: The State Department should 
        continue its efforts to integrate the Office of the 
        Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan 
        into the Bureau for South and Central Asian Affairs and 
        USAID's Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs into 
        the Asia Bureau.

                              Introduction

          A stable, democratic, and secure Afghanistan is a 
        U.S. national interest; it will be a bulwark against al 
        Qaida and other dangerous extremist groups and a 
        partner in the effort to prevent those groups from 
        using Afghanistan to plan and launch attacks against 
        our people and our allies . . . [who have participated 
        in] a truly extraordinary international civilian 
        campaign to help heal the scars of decades of war and 
        years of life under a system of government that made 
        the cruel commonplace.--Ambassador James Dobbins, 
        former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and 
        Pakistan (SRAP) \1\

    In 2014, Afghanistan is experiencing political and security 
transitions that will mark an inflection point in the country's 
history and the international community's role. Decisions made 
during these transitions and beyond will impact Afghanistan's 
security, politics and development for decades to come. In the 
1990s, U.S. disengagement from Afghanistan proved disastrous 
for the country, the region and the international community. 
Today, the U.S. must avoid making the mistakes of the past and 
take steps to ensure the strength and sustainability of U.S. 
assistance spending, diplomatic posture, and regional strategy.
    These goals will resonate through the country's political 
and security transitions and the U.S. has a strong base of 
accomplishments upon which to build. Afghanistan has made 
substantial development progress since 2001 in education, 
health, and infrastructure. According to the Afghan government, 
7.3 million students are attending school, more than one third 
of whom are girls, compared to only one million children in 
2001, almost all of whom were boys.\2\ Life expectancy has 
increased from around 40 to 60 years old, and infant and 
maternal mortality rates have been cut in half. Since 2001, 
Afghanistan's GDP increased from $2.4 billion to more than $20 
billion today.\3\ From 2001-2012, Afghanistan had the highest 
Human Development Index (HDI) growth in the world, which 
combines measures of education, health, and income. Largely due 
to the progress made in these key areas, the Afghan people 
broadly support continued engagement with the U.S. and the 
international community. The strength of this support will be a 
significant bulwark against Afghanistan again becoming a safe 
haven for extremist groups.
    Democratic institutions have also made strides in 
Afghanistan since 2001, and Afghanistan now lays claim to 
vibrant civil society groups and an independent media sector 
which could never exist under Taliban rule. Organizations 
representing the rights of Afghan women have been particularly 
effective in advocating for social change, though they have a 
long road ahead. And the 2014 presidential election, while 
deeply flawed, demonstrated the determination of the Afghan 
people to participate in the democratic process. Afghanistan's 
democratic institutions are still fragile and vulnerable to 
fraud and abuse, but its civil society groups are well 
positioned to advocate with the new administration for more 
political space and an enhanced role in the years to come. 
Following this contentious election process, both President 
Ghani and CEO Abdullah have a responsibility to bolster 
democratic institutions in the country and build trust with the 
Afghan people. To that end, President Ghani should work closely 
with Dr. Abdullah on the full implementation of all elements of 
the political unity deal brokered by Secretary Kerry in August 
2014. As part of its oversight responsibilities, the Senate 
Foreign Relations Committee will monitor the implementation of 
this agreement as it considers future assistance.
    Afghanistan still faces significant institutional 
challenges that could roll back the considerable progress made. 
A stubborn insurgency will continue to threaten security, and 
the capacity of the Afghan government to provide goods and 
services remains very weak. The economy will likely face 
significant budget shortfalls in the coming years, due to a 
decline in revenue collection and a diminished international 
presence. As security costs increase, the Afghan portion of the 
budget dedicated to development efforts will likely decrease. 
Illicit poppy cultivation and opium production is on the rise. 
Perhaps most challenging, corruption remains rampant: 
Transparency International ranks the country as one of the most 
corrupt in the world. Amid these challenges, the U.S. 
relationship with Afghanistan deteriorated significantly 
towards the end of President Hamid Karzai's term, which has 
eroded support in the U.S. for continued engagement.
    Critical to a successful transition in Afghanistan is 
maintaining support in the U.S. for a sustained diplomatic, 
assistance and security engagement with the new Afghan 
government. The administration should clearly state U.S. 
interests in Afghanistan and make a strong public case for the 
importance of remaining focused on the region. Amid competing 
interests around the world, sustained senior level attention to 
the region will be critical to safeguarding hard-fought gains 
throughout the transition.
    Those gains have been made possible through the sacrifices 
made by the U.S., our coalition partners and the Afghans over 
the last 13 years. The Afghan and American people owe a 
profound debt of gratitude to our armed forces, diplomats and 
aid workers who have been instrumental in Afghanistan's 
positive trajectory. The U.S. has lost more than 2,300 
servicemembers in Afghanistan and many thousands more have 
returned home with grievous injuries, both visible and 
invisible. The State Department, USAID and their partner 
organizations have lost more than 400 people. We honor the 
memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan, 
the sacrifices made by their families and those who will bear 
the lifelong wounds of war.

             I. Enhanced Accountability for U.S. Assistance

          As resources become more limited, prioritization and 
        improving efficiency and effectiveness of aid in order 
        to maximize the benefits of development outcomes become 
        crucial.--Joint report of the Government of Afghanistan 
        and the international community\4\

    Given ongoing budget constraints in the U.S., it is 
unlikely that assistance for Afghanistan will increase in the 
coming years, making the accountability of funds even more 
important. A strong and clear framework for accountability can 
both ensure that U.S. taxpayer funds are spent wisely and 
bolster support for continued assistance. This requires a more 
focused use of existing accountability tools like the TMAF.

The TMAF as a Mechanism for Incentivized Assistance

    In 2012, international donors and the Afghan government 
agreed to the TMAF, which included a pledge by donors to 
provide $4 billion per year from 2012-2015 and to sustain 
assistance at or near the same levels of the past decade 
through 2017. In return, the Afghan government agreed to 
benchmarks related to democracy and governance, public finance 
and revenue generation, and economic development.\5\ At the 
center of the TMAF agreement was a commitment by the 
international community to provide a higher percentage of 
funding directly to the Afghan government, or ``on-budget.'' 
On-budget funding helps the ministries develop administrative 
capacity and pay for operations, personnel, and development 
initiatives.\6\
    In 2013, the U.S. announced the U.S.--Afghanistan Incentive 
Fund,\7\ which incentivized up to $175 million in funding 
through the World Bank Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund's 
``recurrent cost window.'' \8\ In early 2014, the U.S. released 
$15 million after it assessed that Afghanistan had completed 
benchmarks on electoral reforms, and another $15 million in 
recognition of the Afghan government's adoption of a provincial 
budgeting policy, which will be essential for the 
sustainability of decentralization efforts. Lack of progress in 
the areas of rule of law, human rights, women's rights, and 
public and commercial finance resulted in the U.S. withdrawing 
$45 million from the incentive fund, to be reprogrammed for use 
in other U.S. assistance programs in the country.\9\ By 
reducing the amount of funds available for on-budget 
assistance, the U.S. demonstrated the consequences of the lack 
of progress made by the Afghan government. The remaining 
incentive funding has been set aside pending discussions with a 
new Afghan government on reform priorities.
    Donor countries and Afghan officials have committed to 
meeting before the end of 2014 to review the TMAF, and the U.S. 
must clearly state that assistance will be subject to increased 
scrutiny. The TMAF need not be completely renegotiated, but the 
incentive structure should be strengthened and funding should 
be tied to improving Afghanistan's capacity to collect revenue, 
enhance women's rights, address corruption and stem the illicit 
economy, and protect human rights. USAID should also enhance 
the capacity of non-governmental watchdogs that can scrutinize 
the work of government ministries receiving on-budget 
assistance.

Improving Afghanistan's Capacity to Budget and Collect Revenue

    The Afghan government will face severe fiscal shortfalls 
for many years to come and will require long-term support from 
the international community. Overall, the incoming government 
should work to establish realistic plans for budgeting that 
include prioritizing expenditures and improving budget 
execution. The government should also prioritize revenue 
collection as a means towards bolstering the country's long 
term economic stability, while also building the confidence of 
the international community.\10\ Early in its tenure, the 
incoming government can take four immediate steps to improve 
revenue collection: First, it should fully deploy electronic 
payment systems at all customs collection locations. Second, it 
should develop uniform and consistent methods to collect and 
report customs data. Third, it should work to improve the 
transparency of contracts in current law regulating the mining 
industry and pass legislation establishing a value-added tax 
(VAT). Any relevant U.S. assistance programs should support 
these revenue generation objectives and provide technical 
assistance to the government, where possible.\11\
    Customs revenue collected by the Afghan government accounts 
for nearly 50 percent of the country's overall revenue, but the 
process is riddled with corruption, especially at key border 
crossings.\12\ While corruption at customs collection points is 
difficult to quantify, USAID and Afghan customs officials 
estimate that a significant reduction in corruption could 
potentially double Afghanistan's customs revenue, essentially 
increasing overall government revenue by one-third.\13\
    The U.S. has spent at least $198 million to develop the 
capacity of the Afghan government to assess and collect 
revenue.\14\ A key component of one USAID program to increase 
customs revenue is the technological capability to 
electronically transfer custom fees, which improves efficiency 
and diminishes the possibility for corruption. According to a 
2014 report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan 
Reconstruction (SIGAR), the employment of this electronic 
payment system has been ``delayed, due in part, to a proposal 
by an Afghan official to allow only one Afghan bank to process 
all of the electronic customs payments.'' \15\ Despite a 
decline in customs collection in recent years, the Afghan 
government has not yet moved forward with this critical 
technology.
    SIGAR has also raised concerns about the reliability of the 
revenue data produced by the Afghan Customs Department (ACD), 
including the lack of consistent data related to border 
closures, which compounds Afghanistan's revenue challenges and 
creates more opportunities for corruption. The U.S. should 
prioritize the above issues with the new Afghan government.
    Increased revenue collection will not immediately solve 
Afghanistan's fiscal challenges, and the country will continue 
to be reliant on the international community for assistance. 
Nevertheless, if the new Afghan government cannot show a strong 
political commitment to revenue collection in its first year, 
then the U.S. taxpayer should not be expected to contribute the 
same levels of robust funding.

Enhancing Women's Political, Economic, and Social Rights

    Afghan women are concerned that hard-fought gains for their 
rights and freedoms will erode as the international community 
draws down troops or as the Afghan government negotiates a 
peace deal with the Taliban. With respect to women's rights, 
the TMAF focused only on the implementation of the Elimination 
of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law and the National Action 
Plan for the Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA). The relevant 
benchmark required the Afghan government to publically report 
on incidents of violence against women across the country. The 
government did not meet the deadline in releasing the report so 
the U.S. withdrew $15 million in incentive funding.
    In determining funding incentives, the U.S. should 
prioritize efforts which seek to protect the most vulnerable 
women in Afghan society, ensure that women are actively engaged 
in the political process, and guarantee that their perspectives 
are taken into account in the peace and reconciliation process. 
Lasting peace and prosperity in Afghanistan will require an 
inclusive political settlement which not only respects the 
rights of women, but also includes them as active participants 
in the process. Similarly, any TMAF benchmarks regarding 
women's rights should be negotiated in close consultation with 
women leaders in Afghan civil society.
    The U.S. and other international donors should pressure the 
incoming Afghan government to make substantial and measurable 
commitments to supporting women's political, economic and 
social rights in Afghanistan. First, international donors 
should reiterate the importance of the full implementation of 
the EVAW law and the NAPWA, as well as amending or repealing 
laws that discriminate against women. Second, the international 
community should tie funding to measurable gains in the 
capacity and empowerment of the Ministry for Women's Affairs 
(MOWA). With provincial offices spread across the country, MOWA 
is well placed to represent and protect the interests of women 
at the local level, but it remains weak relative to other 
government ministries. Finally, although the State Department's 
Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement supports 
Afghanistan's most vulnerable women through funding of women's 
shelters, more should be done to ensure stable, predictable, 
and long-term assistance for shelters, perhaps through 
incentivizing a portion of funding based on improving the 
capacity of shelters, increasing their number, and ensuring 
that they are performing their expected duties.

Renewed Efforts to Address Corruption and Stem Afghanistan's Illicit 
        Economy

          The great challenge to Afghanistan's future isn't the 
        Taliban or Pakistani safe havens or even an incipiently 
        hostile Pakistan. The existential threat to the long-
        term viability of modern Afghanistan is corruption. For 
        too long we've focused our attention solely on the 
        Taliban as the existential threat to Afghanistan. They 
        are an annoyance compared to the scope and the 
        magnitude of corruption with which (Afghanistan) must 
        contend.--Former ISAF Commander General John Allen\16\

    The influx of security and development funds into 
Afghanistan after 2001 helped create an environment susceptible 
to corruption. While decreased levels of international funding 
and enhanced U.S. accountability measures may mitigate the 
impact of corruption, the new Afghan government should address 
corruption through legislation, personnel appointments, and 
capacity building.
    First, the government should adopt long delayed anti-
corruption legislation which the U.S. established as a 
benchmark for its Incentive Fund. The U.S. should again tie 
assistance to this benchmark, and if the new government fails 
to achieve it, the U.S. should use those funds to bolster the 
work of anti-corruption Afghan civil society groups.
    Second, the incoming government must appoint genuine 
reformers to positions within key ministries; these reformers 
can be empowered by strong TMAF requirements which they can use 
to advance reforms. The new government will indicate its degree 
of seriousness in tackling corruption with these appointments.
    Third, the new government has taken steps to address the 
Kabul Bank scandal which resulted in the theft of nearly $900 
million. The government should continue this focus, work to 
recover lost funds and prosecute those responsible.
    Fourth, the government should bolster its own internal 
capacity to confront corruption. The government auditor, the 
Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC), should be enhanced 
with political and financial support from the Afghan government 
and continued financial and capacity-building assistance from 
the international community.
    Afghanistan's illicit economy and drug trade will 
significantly hamper its political and security transitions. 
SIGAR has expressed concern that the international community's 
military and civilian drawdowns will result in a loss of 
``critical manpower at precisely the time that poppy 
cultivation and drug trafficking is expanding.'' \17\
    The drivers and consequences of this illicit economy could 
serve to shatter the fragile gains that Afghanistan has made 
over the years. Given the growing scale of this problem and 
diminishing resources, the U.S. faces extreme odds in making 
progress in countering narcotics. This has been a very 
sensitive issue to confront in the past given the impact that 
eradication can have on poor Afghan farmers. There was little 
mention of counternarcotics in the original TMAF negotiations. 
But this issue should be addressed in new TMAF negotiations, 
and the U.S. should take the lead in tying assistance to 
efforts by the new government to confront the illicit economy.

The Afghan National Security Forces and Protection of Human Rights

    In recent years, the ANSF has made steady progress in 
recruitment and in its ability to conduct operations against 
insurgents. During the 2014 election season, the ANSF were 
instrumental in protecting voters and candidates from insurgent 
attacks. Continued robust international security assistance is 
essential to the viability of the Afghan state and the U.S. 
should abide by its pledged commitments.
    But the U.S. must also maintain the highest standards in 
ensuring that security assistance recipients do not violate 
human rights. With the NATO drawdown, international forces will 
have diminished opportunity to mentor and monitor the work of 
ANSF troops in the field. Alongside this drawdown, the United 
Nations and international human rights organizations have 
expressed concerns about reports of rights violations by 
elements of the ANSF.\18\
    The Afghan Local Police (ALP), which were stood up by the 
U.S. military and mentored by U.S. Special Forces, deserve 
special scrutiny. In 2013, the United Nations reported that 121 
civilian casualties, as well as documented cases of torture, 
were attributed to the ALP. Working with the Ministry of 
Interior, which has jurisdiction over the ALP, the U.S. should 
propose measures to integrate ALP units and functions into the 
Afghan National Police.
    Currently, U.S. security assistance to Afghanistan is 
provided through the Department of Defense (DoD), not the State 
Department (as is normal practice).\19\ U.S. planners do not 
expect to transition security assistance in Afghanistan from 
the DoD to the State Department in the near future. While the 
complications associated with such a transfer of 
responsibilities are prohibitively high at the moment, the 
State Department should regularly brief Congress on how and 
when this transfer will eventually take place. The uniqueness 
of the current arrangement necessitates a pro-active role by 
the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and 
Labor (DRL) in ensuring that statutory human rights vetting of 
the ANSF is rigorous and held to the highest standards.
    If found complicit of serious human rights violations, 
American support for the ANSF could diminish significantly and 
rapidly. The USG should therefore take several steps to enhance 
oversight of the ANSF.
    First, the U.S. should stress to the new Afghan government 
that continued robust support for the ANSF is contingent on 
respect for human rights, a commitment that the Afghan 
government made at the Chicago NATO conference in 2012. The 
ANSF should take measurable steps to improve internal 
accountability by strengthening the capacity, independence, and 
power of its Inspector General (IG). The U.S. could be 
instructive in sharing techniques and expertise from its own 
IGs working at different levels in Afghanistan, especially 
SIGAR and the DoD's IG.
    Second, DRL should be actively engaged in determining the 
suitability of security assistance recipients and assisting DoD 
with its extended vetting efforts.\20\ Given the scale of 
assistance and concerns about robust oversight, this report 
also recommends an interagency review mechanism to address 
reported rights abuses.
    Finally, to maintain the highest standards of human rights 
vetting, the U.S. will need more sources of information and 
more ``eyes-on'' the ANSF. In many countries, domestic civil 
society watchdog organizations are able to play this critical 
role. Afghanistan's civil society has proven its ability to 
conduct oversight of the parliament, advocate for women's 
rights, and observe elections. In the future, U.S. assistance 
to Afghanistan should include at least $10 million for DRL to 
provide grants to Afghan organizations to conduct oversight of 
the security sector.

            II. A Refined U.S. Civilian Assistance Approach

    The USG's civilian assistance transition strategy seeks to 
reinforce and expand gains made in health, education, women's 
empowerment, agriculture, infrastructure, governance, and 
private sector development.\21\ With these goals in mind, the 
U.S. assistance approach in Afghanistan should be refined in 
six key areas: sustainability, capacity-building, lessons 
learned and information sharing, oversight, and regional 
integration.

Sustainability of U.S. Investments

    In 2011, Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) majority 
staff produced a report that analyzed U.S. assistance in 
Afghanistan and recommended a re-evaluation of the performance 
and impact of stabilization programs in conflict zones as well 
as an enhanced focus on the sustainability of U.S. assistance 
programs. The report also emphasized that U.S. assistance 
programs should be necessary, achievable, and sustainable. In 
large measure, the State Department and USAID have taken on the 
recommendations laid out in the 2011 SFRC report, but several 
concerns remain, especially regarding sustainability.
    According to the World Bank, the United States, and other 
international donors fund more than 60% of the Afghan national 
budget as well as several reconstruction projects that operate 
off-budget. The IMF and the World Bank estimate that Afghan 
maintenance of donor-supplied infrastructure--roads, buildings, 
utility, and equipment--will cost 15% of Afghanistan's GDP.\22\ 
In some circumstances, local authorities lack the ability to 
keep projects running and revenue shortfalls may force 
Afghanistan to abandon some development initiatives.
    For example, according to SIGAR, the operation and 
maintenance costs for a USAID program called Partnership 
Contracts for Health Services, which helps fund hospitals, 
clinics, and other medical facilities, far exceed what the 
Afghans can sustain. It remains unclear how these costs will be 
covered in light of diminishing assistance levels, though the 
Ministry of Public Health is reportedly working with the World 
Bank to develop operations and maintenance policies and 
budgeting, as well as asset registries.\23\
    USAID has taken significant measures to promote 
sustainability in its programming, including the June 2011 
``Administrator's Sustainability Guidance for USAID in 
Afghanistan.'' In addition, the FY 14 foreign operations 
appropriation law requires that the Secretary of State certify, 
prior to the obligation of funding, that funds are used in 
accordance with this guidance. According to USAID, all major 
infrastructure projects are subject to a sustainability 
audit.\24\
    Certain U.S. assistance projects, such as infrastructure 
for hydroelectric power and electrical grids, have helped put 
Afghanistan on a path towards self-sustainability. The Afghan 
national power company, DABS, collected $220 million from the 
sale of electricity in 2012, an increase of 67 percent from 
2010. According to USAID, for the first time in 70 years, DABS 
was able to contribute $25 million to the government's coffers 
to help fund the national budget.\25\
    Yet concerns in other program areas remain. According to a 
recent State Department IG report, ``most current International 
Narcotics and Law Enforcement programs cite the goal of 
building sustainable Afghan capacity, however, the degree to 
which sustainability is incorporated into program design and 
performance measures vary considerably.'' \26\ According to the 
IG, a range of factors--including political will, management 
systems, finances, and human capacity--are not always included 
in planning programs. The 2011 SFRC majority staff committee 
report on Afghanistan highlighted significant concerns about 
the sustainability of INL programming. INL should renew its 
efforts to implement sustainable programming, in accordance 
with the USAID sustainability guidelines.
    The importance of sustainability has only grown with the 
drawdown of U.S. military and civilian personnel, a decrease in 
assistance funds, and domestic fiscal constraint. During this 
period, the USG must increase its focus on sustainability to 
ensure that U.S. investments are not lost and that Afghans can 
and will maintain the important gains made. The State 
Department and USAID should produce detailed plans for the 
sustainability of assistance programs in Afghanistan, without 
which Congress cannot make fully informed funding decisions. If 
there is not a realistic plan for how program activities--
especially infrastructure projects--can eventually be sustained 
by Afghans, USAID should not implement them.

Direct ``On-Budget'' Government Assistance

    On-budget assistance is an essential element in building 
the sustainability and capacity of the Afghan government to 
administer to the needs of its citizens. Yet, given the high 
U.S. standards for disbursing funds and the low capacity of the 
Afghan government, this type of assistance is very difficult to 
implement. For example, at the prompting of the Government 
Accountability Office (GAO), USAID conducted independent 
evaluations of 16 individual ministries to assess their 
suitability to receive U.S. funding. Only seven ministries were 
found eligible and received on-budget assistance.\27\
    On-budget programming has not been without controversy. In 
January 2014, SIGAR issued an audit of on-budget funding 
provided to Afghan ministries and asserted that USAID had not 
required the ministries to address most of the risks identified 
through USAID's evaluations.\28\ While SIGAR acknowledged that 
USAID had measures intended to mitigate some risks associated 
with on-budget assistance, it expressed concern that these 
measures did not address all of the most serious problems. 
USAID responded that the ministry weaknesses highlighted in the 
SIGAR audit were not addressed by USAID risk mitigation 
measures because they were not relevant to USAID funding 
streams and the implementation of relevant programs.
    Upon review of the USAID evaluations and the SIGAR audit, 
SFRC majority staff found that USAID had developed a sufficient 
system to deliver assistance while taking steps to implement 
safeguard measures and mitigate against the effects of 
institutional weakness. Nonetheless, significant concerns 
remain about the capacity of Afghan ministries to absorb 
assistance. For example, the World Bank found that only three 
Afghan ministries with development budgets of more than $50 
million (the Ministries of Health, Finance and Rural 
Development) were able to execute more than 20 percent of their 
budgets.\29\ As a result, there are significant pipelines of 
direct on-budget U.S. funding from past years that remain 
unspent.
    Ministerial capacity to disburse development funds will 
continue to be a significant challenge in the years to come, 
and the U.S. should not lower its oversight standards in 
providing on-budget assistance. There have been positive 
examples where USAID has shifted course based on capacity 
concerns. For example, USAID decided to discontinue elements of 
its on-budget assistance to the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, 
Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) when the ministry determined 
that it did not have the capacity to process the funds. 
Implementing assistance too quickly can sometimes do more harm 
than good by distorting local economies and facilitating 
corruption.
    The U.S. should continue to increase the capacity of Afghan 
governing institutions through a gradual and calibrated 
expansion of direct on-budget assistance. Given the 
complexities associated with this type of assistance, USAID 
should provide regular reports to Congress regarding on-budget 
programming, ministry by ministry. USAID should also make every 
effort to address the capacity weaknesses identified by SIGAR 
within the Afghan ministries that receive assistance.

Lessons Learned and Interagency Information Sharing

    Alongside the military surge, stabilization programming in 
the form of small-scale, quick-impact projects rapidly 
increased. Because of the urgent need for these programs, a 
baseline assessment was not conducted, making evaluation of 
project results difficult. The 2011 SFRC majority staff 
committee report asserted that too much aid could have a 
destabilizing effect on the local economies of these 
communities. While stabilization programming may have had a 
short-term impact in some cases, there is scant evidence that 
these projects won over local populations over the long-
term.\30\
    USAID is conducting a study to better understand the impact 
of stabilization programming and how lessons learned can be 
applied to future programming in unstable environments. 
Unfortunately, the assessment does not extend to all government 
agencies that have implemented stabilization assistance in 
Afghanistan. Without a comprehensive and centralized 
assessment, the USG will not have a clear picture of the impact 
of its programs, nor will it have a comprehensive set of 
lessons learned that could be applied in the future.
    USAID and all other U.S. assistance providers, including 
the DoD, should conduct an interagency assessment on the 
efficacy of all U.S. stabilization programs in Afghanistan 
(including the Commander's Emergency Response Program) to 
determine whether they achieved their stated goals. This 
assessment should also examine the challenges associated with 
civilian-military cooperation and the unintended consequences 
of such programming in conflict environments.
    Beyond stabilization programming, the USG can improve 
information sharing on its full complement of development 
initiatives in Afghanistan. Proper planning, monitoring, and 
evaluation of future programs needs to be done with a clear and 
complete understanding of U.S. assistance programs implemented 
since 2001, including those conducted by the military. USAID 
stores data related to its programs in the Afghan Info 
database, which captures various tiers of data and initial 
analysis.\31\ Afghan Info also serves as a useful tool for 
facilitating interagency cooperation and information sharing. 
The Department of Commerce, the Department of Agriculture, and 
several State Department bureaus and offices, including 
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, Political Affairs, 
Public Affairs, Rule of Law and Population and Resource 
Management, have contributed to the database.\32\
    Yet USAID's IG found that, due to concerns about security 
classification levels, Afghan Info does not include data 
related to DoD assistance programming.\33\ As a result, there 
is no way to ensure that future USAID assistance decisions take 
all past DoD efforts into account. While recognizing that 
interagency communication and coordination already occurs 
between the two agencies at some level, DoD and USAID should 
still establish criteria whereby DoD assistance programming 
data can be safely transferred and included in Afghan Info.

Monitoring Program Implementation

    The drawdown of U.S. military forces and civilian personnel 
combined with the tenuous security environment in Afghanistan 
will impact the ability of the U.S. to monitor and evaluate 
projects. Corruption and low government capacity heighten the 
importance of, and make more difficult, sufficient oversight of 
U.S. assistance. USAID has taken several measures to enhance 
oversight of its programs in Afghanistan, including the 
Accountable Assistance for Afghanistan (A3) initiative, which 
seeks to ensure that development funds are not diverted to 
nefarious actors. It has also established a tiered monitoring 
system to verify the implementation of development projects 
that, for security reasons, cannot be physically monitored by 
U.S. personnel.\34\
    USAID has experience conducting monitoring and evaluation 
in insecure environments with little or no U.S. security 
presence. USAID asserts that its current tiered monitoring 
program in Afghanistan is similar to those used in other 
countries like Colombia, Iraq, Pakistan, and South Sudan.\35\ 
Yet Afghanistan poses a unique set of challenges: its 
assistance levels are higher than any other country, it is one 
of the most corrupt countries in the world, and parts of the 
country remain active conflict zones. As a result, SIGAR has 
expressed serious concern about programs which fall outside 
areas that can be directly monitored by U.S. personnel.\36\
    The State Department and USAID should provide regular 
reports to Congress on the challenges posed by indirect 
monitoring of assistance programs and on the methodology of 
such monitoring. The tiered monitoring system\37\ is a creative 
method, but also creates significant risks and will be subject 
to ongoing scrutiny by Congress. In a time of shrinking 
budgets, programs that cannot be sufficiently monitored should 
be paused until security conditions improve or, in other cases, 
closed down completely.
    The State Department's policy on monitoring and evaluation 
directed agencies to establish ``specific trip wires for 
deciding when projects should be postponed, put on hold or 
terminated.'' \38\ Congress should be fully briefed on these 
``trip wires'' and any ongoing challenges related to program 
monitoring. USAID should also regularly brief Congress on 
programs they have postponed, paused, or terminated because of 
poor monitoring conditions. USAID should similarly inform 
Congress of its efforts to coordinate with other international 
donors on tiered monitoring efforts.
    USAID works in a very difficult environment in Afghanistan. 
While it should be held to the highest standards of 
accountability, operating in a conflict environment is 
inherently and uniquely risky. USAID cannot be expected to 
operate completely risk-free programs. However, USAID should 
regularly inform Congress on the nature of the risks involved 
to help it determine whether the costs are worth the benefits.

New Silk Road Initiative

    The New Silk Road (NSR) is an ambitious and worthwhile 
initiative to help Afghanistan build better economic 
interconnectivity with its neighbors. Countries in South and 
Central Asia have significant barriers to inter-regional trade 
which the NSR hopes to overcome. The NSR's long-term vision 
comes amid substantially increased investment and engagement in 
the region by China and Russia. In recent years, China has made 
large investments in infrastructure in Central Asia, 
particularly in the energy sector. Russia has also increased 
its engagement in Central Asia through the launch of the 
Eurasian Customs Union and has increased defense ties with 
several countries. The NSR's proposed North-South trade routes 
complement growing East-West connections across Eurasia, 
creating additional economic opportunity for Central Asian 
states. While progress has been made with limited resources, 
more robust U.S. diplomatic and financial investment in Central 
Asia is needed to make substantial progress towards an 
Afghanistan that can freely trade with its neighbors. There are 
also significant opportunities for the USG to facilitate 
economic connections between Pakistan and Central Asia via 
Afghanistan, particularly on energy and trade issues, which can 
help promote needed stability in Pakistan and the greater 
region.
    Between FY 2010 and FY 2014, the State Department asserts 
that it leveraged more than $2 billion from international 
financial institutions and donors ``including the Asian 
Development Bank and the World Bank, in support of energy 
transmission lines, hydropower plants, and energy-sector 
reforms.\39\ Notably, the U.S. has dedicated $15 million to 
supporting the CASA1000 regional electricity project, which 
will result in the export of much-needed electricity from 
Central Asia to Afghanistan and Pakistan.\40\ Afghanistan and 
Pakistan recently signed a pricing agreement paving the way for 
CASA1000 to move forward. In September 2014, the State 
Department and USAID reprogrammed an additional $15 million in 
funds appropriated for Afghanistan to focus on projects that 
enhance regional economic connectivity. The NSR initiative has 
improved customs and border operations and corresponding legal 
frameworks throughout the region, easing the cost and time 
associated with transporting goods. It has also enhanced 
people-to-people ties, particularly among business people.\41\
    While these efforts have clearly yielded some initial 
results, the administration could do more to bolster its 
commitment to the NSR initiative. First, it should dedicate 
more sustained senior level engagement with other governments 
to break the diplomatic logjams that inevitably emerge among 
the countries of South and Central Asia. In addition, there 
should be more interagency cooperation across the Afghanistan, 
Pakistan, and Central Asia directorates, as well as the 
National Security Council.
    Second, the U.S. administration should review its FY 15 and 
FY 16 planning to ensure that adequate resources are requested 
for the NSR Initiative. In the FY 14 appropriations law, 
Congress authorized the State Department to use up to $150 
million in Afghanistan Economic Support Fund assistance to 
bolster economic connectivity between Afghanistan and its 
neighbors in the region. Given the low U.S. assistance levels 
in Central Asia, the administration should follow the guidance 
of this authorization and invest more funding in the NSR 
initiative. Additional funding appropriated for Pakistan could 
also support regional economic initiatives to connect Pakistan 
to Afghanistan and Central Asia, which would directly support 
U.S. national security interests in Pakistan.\42\
    While primarily a tool to build economic connectivity 
within the region, the State Department and USAID should also 
look to further integrate the NSR initiative with its democracy 
and governance goals, particularly in Central Asia. As the 
potential of Central Asian markets increases, international 
investors will increasingly demand legal frameworks that are 
fair, transparent, and enforceable. The NSR initiative should 
coordinate with USAID's Rule of Law programming in these 
countries. Alongside this push to enhance economic 
interconnectivity, the USG should also do more to develop the 
capacity of domestic NGOs and watchdog organizations capable of 
holding their governments accountable. Second, the USG should 
expand efforts to connect civil society groups in the region, 
especially businesswomen and non-governmental organizations 
that promote women's rights and empowerment.

       III. Robust U.S. Diplomatic Posture and Civilian Presence

    The U.S. continues to face significant challenges in 
conducting diplomacy and providing assistance in Afghanistan, 
ranging from an insecure environment, corruption in Afghan 
governing institutions and limited Afghan government capacity 
to reform and implement development programs. These challenges 
will likely grow throughout this critical transition period, 
which will only increase the need for sustained diplomatic 
engagement, vigorous oversight, renewed focus on strategic 
objectives, and commensurate resourcing in terms of personnel 
and assistance funds. To face these challenges, the USG should 
consider several measures with respect to its U.S. civilian 
staffing, Afghan employees, and bureaucratic structure.

Civilian Staffing

    The Administration's FY 2015 appropriations request 
includes $961 million to support embassy and consulate 
operations. As of August 2014, the State Department plans to 
maintain diplomatic facilities in Kabul (embassy) Mazar-e-
Sharif and Herat (consulates), Kandahar (a regional diplomatic 
facility) and Bagram (a liaison office with the DoD and NATO) 
to include nearly 700 direct hires, as well as 1,100 locally-
employed staff and 3,400 contractors.\43\ The U.S. diplomatic 
and assistance presence will only grow in importance with the 
drawdown of U.S. troops, heightening the need for sufficient 
levels of staff and infrastructure, as well as maintaining 
continuity and institutional knowledge.\44\ State Department 
diplomats generally serve one-year deployments with the option 
to extend; USAID has maintained the same practice. The 
resulting frequent turnover of U.S. personnel in Kabul has 
created challenges in the quality of analytic reporting\45\ and 
in establishing and maintaining relationships critical to 
diplomacy and development efforts. Anecdotal reports from U.S. 
officials indicate that by the time an officer gets a firm 
handle on their position, it is already time for them to move 
on.
    To address the loss of institutional knowledge and 
expertise, the State Department IG recommended that the USG 
expand off-shoring and outsourcing of certain responsibilities, 
as well as increase the use of more long term ``temporary 
duty'' staff (officials who temporarily leave their U.S.-based 
jobs for stints abroad).\46\ The State Department and USAID 
should also consider enhanced incentives for those who agree to 
deploy for two or more years. Incentives could include 
additional financial bonuses or expanded shelter-in-place 
benefits (allowing families to remain at the diplomat's last 
overseas post). This is not a new challenge to the Foreign 
Service but is one that continues to bedevil U.S. contingency 
operations. The State Department and interested parties within 
the foreign service, including the American Foreign Service 
Association, should cooperate in developing a plan to address 
this issue. The OIG also recommends establishing a pilot 
program that would allow eligible family members at other 
overseas posts to apply for short-term employments at Embassy 
Kabul.\47\
    The State Department should also conduct a review on how it 
retains staff knowledge and captures lessons learned. Due to 
security concerns, some departing American staff do not overlap 
with their successors in Kabul and do not have the chance to 
personally transfer tasks and knowledge. The USG should 
consider requiring that departed U.S. staff dedicate some time 
in their new post to regularly communicating with their 
successor in Afghanistan to ensure a smooth transition. This 
effort should include creative use of technology to record 
lessons learned.

The Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program

    The SIV program in Afghanistan provides visas to Afghan 
nationals and their families who are under threat because of 
their work for the U.S. military, State Department, USAID or 
U.S. contractors. The SIV program is critically important to 
protect Afghans who have worked and sacrificed to advance U.S. 
interests in Afghanistan, and the U.S. has a profound 
obligation to ensure the security of these courageous 
individuals and their families. In 2009, Congress passed the 
Afghan Allies Protection Act, authorizing up to 7,500 Special 
Immigrant Visas. There was a significant backlog of thousands 
of applicants over the course of this program, which has only 
recently begun to be addressed by the State Department.\48\ In 
July of 2014, the U.S. Congress voted to expand the number of 
SIVs by 1,000 in FY14 and the measure was signed into law. 
Congress should extend the program through the end of 2016 and 
expand the overall number of SIVs available to 4,000 per 
year.\49\ The USG should also consider further reforms to 
streamline the overall SIV process while still maintaining high 
security standards. As the drawdown of U.S. troops continues, 
the State Department should accelerate the SIV process to 
prevent any unnecessary backlog of applicants.
    The GAO reports that a majority of USAID's foreign national 
staff have applied for SIVs.\50\ Coupled with the high rotation 
rate of U.S. personnel in Afghanistan, the loss of locally-
employed staff has also diminished the USG's institutional 
knowledge of development programs, relationships with local 
actors, and understanding of Afghan culture.
    At a time when U.S. implementers are not as able to deploy 
to the field, local Afghan expertise is needed more than ever 
to assist U.S. efforts.The State Department should take further 
steps to ensure that institutional knowledge of outgoing SIV 
recipients is better captured.
    First, U.S. employees rotating to Afghanistan should be 
able to easily identify and communicate with Afghans who had 
previously worked on their portfolios but have since relocated 
to the United States under the SIV program.
    Second, future authorizing legislation on SIVs should also 
allow for newly-arrived SIV recipients to work in the U.S. for 
the State Department, USAID or other agencies working to 
support U.S. interests in Afghanistan.
    Third, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul must also take steps to 
maintain institutional knowledge among its Locally Employed 
Staff (LES). The State Department reports that it works to 
ensure overlap among incoming and outgoing LES and uses 
Portfolio Continuity, an IT-based program which seeks to 
maintain institutional knowledge.\51\ While essential, this 
system cannot compensate for the critical relationships and 
experience accumulated by seasoned and experienced Afghan 
staff. The Embassy should make every effort to connect outgoing 
and incoming LES members by videoconference or telephone to 
ensure institutional knowledge is maintained and there is 
continuity of effort.

Promoting Regional Connectivity: The New Silk Road Initiative; Office 
        of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan 
        (SRAP); and USAID's Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs

    In 2009, the Office of the Special Representative for 
Afghanistan and Pakistan was formed to lead diplomatic and 
development efforts in both countries. At the time of the 
military and civilian surge into Afghanistan, and an increased 
emphasis on government-to-government ties with Pakistan, this 
arrangement was a worthwhile and important indication of 
American commitment to the region.
    The U.S. administration has repeatedly asserted that the 
long-term economic sustainability of Afghanistan will be 
determined by its enhanced integration within the region, 
driven by the New Silk Road initiative. The USG's foreign 
policy bureaucratic structures should reflect this assertion. 
The FY 14 Appropriations law called for the State Department to 
begin planning for the reintegration of Afghanistan and 
Pakistan into the SCA bureau. The State Department and USAID 
should continue to normalize the diplomatic and assistance 
approach to Afghanistan and Pakistan by reintegrating both 
countries into the SCA bureau at the State Department and the 
Bureau for Asia at USAID. \52\ Given the strategic importance 
of both countries and their significant aid packages, this 
change should not mean precipitously diminishing the level of 
senior engagement associated with both countries. However, to 
achieve the administration's overarching objective of regional 
integration, the State Department and USAID need better 
bureaucratic alignment.
    In recent months, several steps have been taken to improve 
communication and coordination between the SRAP office and SCA, 
including ``dual hatting'' senior officials in both places as 
well as increasing regular interaction among those at a working 
level. These efforts are welcome, and the State Department 
should continue this glide path toward full integration of SRAP 
in the SCA Bureau.




                              ----------                              

Notes


    \1\ Ambassador James Dobbins Testimony before Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee, December 10, 2013.

    \2\ USAID Response to question from SFRC staff, September 15, 2014.

    \3\ World Bank Development Indicators
http://databank.worldbank.org/data/views/reports/tableview.aspx#

    \4\ Joint report of the Government of Afghanistan and the 
international community presented at the January 2014 Special Joint 
Coordinated Monitoring (JCMB) meeting. Full report can be found here:
http://www.embassyofafghanistan.org/sites/default/files/documents/
Special%20JCMB_Joint%20Report_28%20Jan%202014.pdf

    \5\ The TMAF benchmarks cover five main areas of focus:
   Area 1: Representational Democracy and Equitable Elections
   Area 2: Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights
   Area 3: Integrity of Public Finance and Commercial Banking
   Area 4: Government Revenues, Budget Execution and Sub-National 
        Governance
   Area 5: Inclusive and Sustained Growth and Development
    Within each area, the TMAF charted out a series of specific goals 
and 16 indicators. The Joint Coordinating and Monitoring Board (JCMB), 
the main group of international donors, agreed to meet on a regular 
basis to measure progress against the TMAF indicators. These indicators 
ranged from the relatively subjective (ensure respect for human rights 
for all its citizens) to the very detailed (improve budget execution to 
75% by 2017).

    \6\ TMAF donors have committed to increase incentive funding 
provided through mechanisms like the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust 
Fund (ARTF) to 10 percent by 2014, and up to 20 percent by 2024.

    \7\ The U.S. also supports incentive programs offered by 
multilateral institutions including the Incentive Program of the 
Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, and conditions included in the 
Expanded Credit Facility provided by the International Monetary Fund.

    \8\ The recurrent cost window is an on-budget funding mechanism 
that provides the Afghan government with some flexibility in covering 
budget shortfalls in paying salaries or covering operational costs. 
Specific budget line items associated with this mechanism are the most 
visible elements of U.S. assistance in Afghanistan that is tied to 
tangible macro-level reforms implemented by the Afghan government. 
USAID also has stringent conditions built into bilateral on-budget 
assistance provided to Afghan government ministries. The reforms 
required under these programs however are narrower in scope, relevant 
to the specific ministry and do not have the same macro-level reach of 
the conditionality attached to the TMAF hard deliverables.

    \9\ The U.S. also tied $15 million in funds to Afghanistan passing 
mining legislation, which it did. However, the legislation missed the 
April 2014 deadline set by the U.S., and it was not determined that the 
law met international standards, as required by the deliverable, so the 
funding was not released. This funding was reprogrammed to activities 
that enhance regional economic connectivity.

    \10\ After years of steady and incremental progress, revenue 
collection by the Afghan government has steadily declined over the past 
few years: 11% of GDP in 2011, 10.3% of GDP in 2012 and 9.6% of GDP in 
2013. The State Department cites a number of factors which contributed 
to this downturn, including a slowdown in economic growth, the early 
collection of some 2013 taxes in 2012 and rent-seeking by officials who 
engaged in ``corrupt behavior as they contemplated the possible loss of 
their government positions post-election.'' (Response by Special 
Representative James Dobbins to a Question for the Record submitted by 
Senator Robert Menendez, December 10, 2013) The World Bank blamed the 
shortfall on ``leakages and weakness in administration, particularly in 
customs.'' These recent shortfalls in revenue collection will require 
the Afghan government to raise revenues by 1% of GDP from 2015-2018 in 
order to meet its fiscal targets. (World Bank, Afghanistan Economic 
Update, October 2013.
http://wwwwds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/
2013/10/24/000442464_20131024131051/Rendered/PDF/
820120WP0WB0Af0Box0379855B00PUBLIC0.pdf)

    \11\ Afghanistan has made revenue commitments through several 
international mechanisms. The TMAF includes benchmarks that call for 
revenue to be 17% of GDP by 2025. Afghanistan has also committed to 
reform its customs collection practices to align with the World Customs 
Organization's Revised Kyoto Convention and to comply with required 
steps to gain admittance into the World Trade Organization. The 
international community should continue to hold Afghan officials 
accountable for these commitments.

    \12\ SIGAR Report: ``Afghan Customs: U.S. Programs Have Had Some 
Successes, but Challenges Will Limit Customs Revenue as a Sustainable 
Source of Income for Afghanistan.'' April 2014.

    \13\ Ibid.

    \14\ USAID has funded at least three programs that seek to improve 
Afghanistan's capacity to improve revenue collection, including two 
Trade Accession and Facilitation for Afghanistan programs (TAFA I and 
TAFA II). These programs generated some success--for example, 
improvements in the efficiency at key customs locations resulted in 
savings of $39 million for the Afghan government and importers. 
Currently, USAID supports the Afghan Trade and Revenue Project (ATAR) 
which seeks to improve Afghanistan's ability to collect revenues by 
focusing on the collection of taxes and customs fees. This program 
works to develop the capacity of the Ministry of Finance and the 
Ministry of Commerce and Industry "to improve customs and border 
procedures, use improved procedures and technology to reduce 
corruption, complete Afghanistan's accession to the WTO and build 
fiscal capacity." (SIGAR Report: ``Afghan Customs: U.S. Programs Have 
Had Some Successes, but Challenges Will Limit Customs Revenue as a 
Sustainable Source of Income for Afghanistan.'' April 2014.)

    \15\ SIGAR Report: ``Afghan Customs: U.S. Programs Have Had Some 
Successes, but Challenges Will Limit Customs Revenue as a Sustainable 
Source of Income for Afghanistan.'' April 2014.

    \16\ U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing ``A 
Transformation: Afghanistan Beyond 2014'' April 30, 2014.
http://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Allen_Testimony.pdf

    \17\ Testimony of John Sopko, Special Inspector General, 
Afghanistan Reconstruction, before the U.S. Senate Caucus on 
International Narcotics Control Hearing on ``U.S. Counternarcotics 
Efforts in Afghanistan,'' January 15, 2014.
http://www.drugcaucus.senate.gov/hearing-1-15-14/
SIGAR%20John%20F%20%20Sopko.pdf

    \18\ In February 2014, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan 
(UNAMA) issued a report which expressed concerns about credible reports 
of human rights violations by some Afghan security forces during their 
ground operations in 2013. UNAMA received credible reports of beatings 
of civilians, property destruction and theft of personal property, 
including motorcycles, money, jewelry and valuable items. (UNAMA, 
Afghanistan Annual Report 2013 Protection of Civilians in Armed 
Conflict, February 2014)
http://unama.unmissions.org/Portals/UNAMA/human%20rights/
Feb_8_2014_PoC-report_2013-Full-report-ENG.pdf

    \19\ The State Department is usually the lead implementer of 
security assistance in order to ensure that such programs are aligned 
with U.S. foreign policy priorities and that program recipients are 
vetted in accordance with human rights requirements in U.S. law.

    \20\ The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (P.L. 113-76), 
contains a provision extending the prohibition on any support or 
training where a gross violation of human rights occurred to ``any 
training, equipment, or other assistance for the members of a unit of a 
foreign security force if the Secretary of Defense has credible 
information that the unit has committed a gross violation of human 
rights.''

    \21\ The administration's total FY  2015 foreign assistance request 
for Afghanistan is $1.595 billion, a 29% reduction from the FY  2013 
appropriation. According to the administration, this request keeps the 
U.S. on track to meet commitments made at the 2012 Tokyo donors' 
conference, but adjusts for a new implementing model due to fewer 
staff, uncertain security environment and a shift to more technical 
assistance. In March 2014 congressional testimony, USAID laid out a 
transition strategy that includes the following elements:
    Maintain and make durable the gains made in health, education, and 
        the empowerment of women;
    Mitigate the economic impact of the drawdown through a robust 
        focus on the agricultural sector, private sector development, 
        the operations and maintenance of infrastructure investments, 
        and the future potential of the extractives industry; and
    Foster improved stability by supporting legitimate and effective 
        Afghan governance, including the 2014 presidential election.
    \22\ SIGAR Quarterly Report to the United States Congress, July 30, 
2014, pg 6.
http://www.sigar.mil/pdf/quarterlyreports/2014-07-30qr.pdf

    \23\ Response by Special Representative James Dobbins to a Question 
for the Record submitted by Senator Robert Menendez, July 11, 2013

    \24\ Response by Special Representative James Dobbins to a Question 
for the Record submitted by Senator Robert Menendez, July 11, 2013

    \25\ USAID Frontlines Publication, January/February 2014
http://www.usaid.gov/news-information/frontlines/energy-infrastructure/
powering-afghanistan

    \26\ State Department Office of Inspector General ``Inspection of 
Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan''(ISP-1-14-22A) August 2014

    \27\ USAID Assistant Administrator Donald Sampler outlined the 
layers of protection to mitigate the risks associated with providing 
on-budget assistance. These measures include:
   requiring the establishment of a non-commingled, separate bank 
        account for each project with USAID;
   disbursement of funds only after USAID has verified that the 
        ministry has achieved a performance milestone or USAID has 
        verified incurred costs;
   an annual audit by a USAID OIG-approved firm;
   substantial involvement and oversight by USAID staff in procurement 
        processes;
   independent management, monitoring and evaluation of services; and
   technical assistance through other projects to increase the 
        capacity of ministries while addressing any vulnerabilities or 
        weaknesses identified in the assessments
    (U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Hearing April 3, 2014) 
USAID also provides technical assistance to ministries to develop the 
capacity of ministry officials and staff.

    \28\ SIGAR 14-32 Audit Report ``Direct Assistance: USAID Has Taken 
Positive Action to Assess Afghan Ministries' Ability to Manage Donor 
Funds, but Concerns Remain'' January 2014.

    \29\ World Bank, Afghanistan Economic Update, October 2013
http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/
2013/10/24/000442464_20131024131051/Rendered/PDF/
820120WP0WB0Af0Box0379855B00PUBLIC0.pdf

    \30\ Alongside the military drawdown, stabilization programming has 
diminished significantly in scale, but will remain in some form for the 
coming years. USAID has also expanded the scope of stabilization to 
include more focus on local decision-making and governing bodies. 
Today's USAID stabilization programming is perhaps better characterized 
as 'democracy and governance' programming.

    \31\ USAID Written Response to SFRC Majority Staff Question, 
December 2013

    \32\ Ibid.

    \33\ USAID reports that ``there are interagency coordination 
mechanisms currently in place like the Deputies-level Executive Working 
Group, regular field level coordination and close cooperation between 
working level project teams at USAID, State and the Department of 
Defense (DoD) that ensure development-type projects implemented through 
the Commander's Emergency Response Program (CERP), Afghanistan 
Infrastructure Fund (AIF), and Task Force for Business Stability 
Operations (TFBSO) are coordinated and not duplicative.'' (USAID 
Written Response to SFRC Majority Staff Question, December 2013)

    \34\ According to USAID, some of the approaches used under A3 
include:
          1. Limiting the number of sub-contracting tiers;
          2. Implementing a robust vetting system of non-U.S. companies 
        and key individuals, at both the prime and sub-contractor 
        level, and establishment of the Vetting Support Unit;
          3. Enhancing financial controls on project funds, such as 
        using electronic funds transfers in lieu of cash payments, 
        using independent audit firms to verify appropriate usage of 
        funds, reviewing of recipients' claims prior to payment, and 
        performing 100% audits of locally incurred costs; and
          4. Implementing robust oversight of all USAID projects in 
        Afghanistan through a five-tiered monitoring approach, 
        encompassing monitoring information gathered from USAID and 
        other U.S. Government staff, USAID implementing partners, other 
        donors, Afghan civil society and beneficiaries, as well as 
        independent monitoring contractors.
(http://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/USAID-Donald-
Sampler-Testimony.pdf),

    \35\ U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing ``The 
Transition in Afghanistan'' December 10, 2013 http://www.foreign. 
senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Sampler_Testimony.pdf

    \36\ John Sopko letter to Secretary John Kerry, October 10, 2013 
http://www.sigar.mil/pdf/alerts/SIGAR_14-4-SP.pdf

    \37\ USAID's current monitoring and evaluation program is broken 
out into five tiers of entities that can be involved in data collection 
process to include:
    Tier 1: USG representatives
    Tier 2: Implementing Partners
    Tier 3: Government of Afghanistan representatives and other donors 
        from the international community
    Tier 4: Civil society groups and beneficiaries
    Tier 5: Independent Monitoring Contractors
    In March 2014, USAID issued a Request for Proposals to conduct a 
remote monitoring program to evaluate whether programs in the field 
have been implemented. The RFP calls for the use of several monitoring 
methods, including third party monitors, time-stamped photographs, use 
of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology and other forms of data 
collection. USAID has established an Implementation Support Team (IST) 
in Kabul ``to centralize and analyze project performance and security 
information relevant to USAID activities.'' The IST will integrate 
security and portfolio-level monitoring data, provide monitoring data 
and facilitate relationships between the Afghan government and other 
donors with the USAID Contracting Officer Representatives (COR) and 
Agreement Officer Representatives (AOR) who manage day to day oversight 
of programs. Based on the integration of this information the IST will 
be able to make programmatic recommendations to decision-makers for 
current and planned projects. (USAID presentation for Senate Foreign 
Relations Committee staff, February 2014)

    \38\ Response by Special Representative James Dobbins to a Question 
for the Record submitted by Senator Robert Menendez, July 11, 2013

    \39\ Response to Question for the Record by Deputy Assistant 
Secretary Fatema Sumar, April 30, 2014

    \40\ The U.S. has spent more than $1.7 billion on energy programs 
in Afghanistan since 2010 and has helped add 1,000 megawatts to 
Pakistan's power grid. Source: http://www.state.gov/p/sca/ci/af/
newsilkroad/

    \41\ Some people-to-people regional initiatives include USAID's 
Central Asia Trade Forums, the Central Asia and Afghanistan Women's 
Economic Symposium (WES) and the South Asia Women's Entrepreneurship 
Symposium (SAWES).

    \42\ The State Department and USAID have committed $24.3 million in 
regional Central Asia Economic Support Fund assistance from FY 12-FY14 
for programs that increase trade and investment, improve transit, 
advance cooperation on energy trade, promote effective natural resource 
management, and support civil society exchanges. USAID has also 
leveraged bilateral resources from the Regional Economic Cooperation 
(REC) project in Central Asia, the Afghanistan Trade and Revenue (ATAR) 
project and Pakistan Trade Project (PTP) to contribute to connectivity 
efforts. Source: Response to Question for the Record by Deputy 
Assistant Secretary Fatema Sumar, April 30, 2014.

    \43\ GAO Briefing for Congressional Committees. ``Afghanistan: 
Status of U.S. Planning for Post-2014 Civilian Presence'' August 2014

    The OIG reported that, "The Foreign Service staffing process 
optimally requires U.S. missions to make staffing decisions one year in 
advance, which means Embassy Kabul has to establish much of its summer 
2014 Foreign Service positions in mid-2013 based not on actual post-
2014 programs and operations but based on its own assumptions and 
resulting transition plans." (``Audit of the Department of State and 
Embassy Kabul Planning for the Transition to a Civilian-Led Mission in 
Afghanistan'' U.S. Department of State Office of Inspector General, 
(AUD-MERO-14-15) December 2013)

    \44\ In 2011, Embassy Kabul began planning for the 2014 security 
transition with two offices which were consolidated into a single 
``Transition Office'' in May 2013. Seeking to learn from the challenges 
posed during the rushed transition in Iraq, the State Department said 
that it purposefully sought out veterans of the Iraq transition to fill 
key positions in the Department and at USAID overseeing the transition 
process in Afghanistan. (Ambassador James Dobbins ``Question for the 
Record'' Response following Testimony before Senate Foreign Relations 
Committee, July 11, 2013.) This effort involved a State Department led 
``Transfer of Tasks'' exercise which ``helped to inform the U.S. 
Embassy and USAID Mission on how to responsibly transfer development-
related activities undertaken by ISAF to other U.S. Government entities 
or to the Afghan government.'' As this ``right-sizing'' initiative 
continues, Congress will monitor the planning associated with the 
necessary office and residential space for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul to 
ensure that it appropriately correlates with the amount of personnel in 
country. (``Audit of the Department of State and Embassy Kabul Planning 
for the Transition to a Civilian-Led Mission in Afghanistan'' U.S. 
Department of State Office of Inspector General, (AUD-MERO-14-15) 
December 2013)

    \45\ State Department Office of Inspector General ``Inspection of 
Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan''(ISP-1-14-22A) August 2014

    \46\ Ibid.

    \47\ State Department Office of Inspector General ``Inspection of 
Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan''(ISP-1-14-22A) August 2014

    \48\ According to the State Department, more than 9,000 SIVs have 
been issued to Afghans in FY 2014, including over 3,400 to Afghan 
principle applicants and over 5,600 to their family members.

    \49\ Background and history on the SIV program can be found on the 
State Department's website: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/
english/immigrate/types/afghans-work-for-us.html as well as the Iraqi 
Refugee Assistance Project: http://refugeerights.org/

    \50\ U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on National 
Security, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Statement of 
Charles Michael Johnson, Jr. Government Accountability Office, March 
13, 2014 http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661700.pdf

    \51\ Response to Question for the Record for Secretary John Kerry, 
April 8, 2014

    \52\ While the principle deputy in SRAP is dual-hatted as a Deputy 
Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of South and Central Asia Affairs 
(SCA), it is unclear of this has led to enhanced policy coordination.
                             In Recognition

    U.S. and Afghan civilian personnel have operated in a very 
dangerous and challenging environment in Afghanistan. These 
individuals should be commended for their courageous work and 
sacrifices made in support of the U.S. mission and national 
interests. Since 2001, at least 435 individuals working for 
USAID partner organizations have been killed and at least 768 
have been wounded. U.S. civilian agencies have lost three 
direct-hire American personnel in violent attacks: USDA Foreign 
Agricultural Service Advisor Steven Thomas Stefani, IV; USAID 
Foreign Service Officer Ragaei Said Abdelfattah; and State 
Department Foreign Service Officer Anne T. Smedinghoff. These 
individuals and their Afghan and international partners who 
have lost their lives embodied the values, courage and 
determination needed to make Afghanistan a better place. The 
committee honors their work and their sacrifice.