Opinion: There’s no oversight of billions in Ukraine aid — we need fiscal watchdogs

Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, writes in The Hill:

As the Senate works to pass the almost $40 billion in emergency supplemental funds for Ukraine just passed by the House, leaders in Washington must also ensure proper oversight of this spending. They can and must do both quickly. 

The Biden administration and Senate must also prioritize installing permanent inspectors general to government agencies so they can monitor aid to Ukraine. These independent watchdogs can ensure that taxpayer money is not siphoned off by fraudsters or war profiteers and that weapons remain in the hands of the Ukrainian military.  

The simplest route would be to install permanent inspectors general at existing offices tasked with doling out the aid and ensure those offices have the resources they need to oversee surge funding like this. The Pentagon and State Department, the two agencies overseeing the bulk of spending for Ukraine assistance, are both missing permanent internal watchdogs — and the Pentagon has been missing one for over six years

The need for effective inspectors general is already apparent given the level and nature of U.S. assistance committed to Ukraine. The speed at which the U.S. has transferred this defense material to the country presents real oversight challenges in terms of both spending and monitoring its use. Oversight and monitoring of arms transfers are generally difficult in the first place, but without U.S. personnel on the ground in Ukraine, something we do not advocate for, it’s even more challenging to monitor whether U.S. arms are staying in the hands of the Ukrainian military. The State and Defense Departments desperately need internal watchdogs to prevent, detect and investigate abuse of funds as well as ineffective or insufficient tracking of weapons by the agencies’ respective monitoring programs. 

Read the full piece here.

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Topics: Oversight