Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction Gen. Arnold Fields has come under fire in the Senate. Members of a Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee raised questions at a Nov. 18 hearing about the SIGAR office’s oversight of contract and anti-corruption investigations in the $52-billion reconstruction effort. The reconstruction program includes billions of dollars in construction work.

At the subcommittee for contracting oversight hearing, the panel’s chairman, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), contended the IG’s office has “fallen short of the mark.” She said that, for example, although SIGAR became fully funded in June 2009, it had completed only one contract audit before December 2009. Since then, SIGAR has completed three additional contract audits.

McCaskill also pointed to two recent reviews of SIGAR work that “confirmed many of the problems my colleagues and I were concerned about.”

Those reviews, completed in the summer by a team from the Audit Committee of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGE), found that although SIGAR had established a system of quality control for audits, the office’s compliance with these policies “was inconsistent and incomplete.”

A review of all the investigations completed by SIGAR at the time of the review showed that “results were very mixed,” said Jon Rymer, chairman of the audit committee for CIGE.

Fields said his office is working to address deficiencies that CIGE highlighted. He also said that, over the last 18 months, SIGAR has issued 34 audit reports, making more than 100 recommendations. Ninety percent of those were adopted by the federal agencies involved. “Our work is, in fact, making a difference,” Fields said.

CIGE will follow up with another review next October, Rymer said.