Report | March 22, 2021

Audit of Coalition Partner Reimbursement for Contracted Rotary Wing Air Transportation Services in Afghanistan (DODIG-2021-062)

Audit

Publicly released: March 24, 2021

Objective

The objective of this audit was to determine whether the DoD sought full reimbursement for contracted rotary wing air transportation services (air transportation services) provided to Coalition partners in Afghanistan in accordance with DoD policy and international agreements. Specifically, we focused on the reimbursement of air transportation services provided from September 2017 through September 2020.

Background

The DoD uses Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreements (ACSA) to acquire or provide logistics support, supplies, and services in exchange for reimbursement between the United States and an authorized foreign country. An ACSA agreement is entered into by the DoD and a partner country to establish basic terms, conditions, and procedures to facilitate the reciprocal provision of logistics support, supplies, and services.

The transfer of services under ACSAs is accomplished through ACSA order forms, which contain details, terms, and conditions related to a specific acquisition of services, including air transportation services. The ACSA order forms are required to be submitted in the ACSA Global Automated Tracking and Reporting System (AGATRS).

The main U.S. personnel and commands responsible for ACSA transactions for air transportation services in Afghanistan are personnel from U.S. Forces– Afghanistan (USFOR-A) Multinational Logistics (MNL) and the U.S. Army Central (ARCENT) Logistics Directorate. There are 17 Coalition partners who reimburse the DoD for the logistics support, supplies, and services they receive. These partners are also referred to as Pay-to-Play Coalition partners. The DoD also pays for logistics support, supplies, and services for Coalition partners who would not otherwise be able to participate in the Resolute Support mission without the financial support of the United States. These Coalition partners are known as Lift and Sustain Coalition partners.

Findings

The DoD did not request reimbursement for air transportation services provided to Coalition partners. Specifically, USFOR-A MNL personnel did not initiate ACSA orders for Pay-to-Play Coalition partners who used air transportation services in Afghanistan from September 2017 through September 2020.

USFOR-A MNL personnel did not initiate ACSA orders because the personnel did not obtain flight usage data, determine a rate per person (the cost of a flight), or establish an agreement with each Coalition partner regarding reimbursement costs and billing methods before services were provided. Furthermore, ARCENT Logistics Directorate personnel did not provide the required oversight of the ACSA program.

The DoD paid $773 million for air transportation services provided to U.S. personnel, Pay-to-Play Coalition partners, and Lift and Sustain Coalition partners from September 2017 through September 2020. However, because USFOR-A did not receive or track Coalition partner flight usage data, the exact cost of reimbursable air transportation services provided to Pay-to-Play Coalition partners cannot be determined. Unless USFOR-A MNL personnel obtain flight usage data, determine the rate per person, and establish an agreement with Coalition partners before services are provided, the DoD will not be able to seek reimbursement for future air transportation services provided in Afghanistan.

Recommendations

We recommend that the USFOR-A MNL Branch Chief, in coordination with the ARCENT MNL Branch Chief, obtain flight usage data on a regular basis, determine the rate per person per flight, establish an agreement with Coalition partners in order to seek reimbursement, and initiate ACSA orders in AGATRS for billing.

We recommend that the ARCENT MNL Branch Chief, in coordination with the USFOR-A MNL Branch Chief, conduct a review of all reimbursable services provided in Afghanistan to Coalition partners and establish internal controls over the ACSA program in Afghanistan to ensure ACSA orders for Coalition partners’ air transportation services are initiated in AGATRS.

Management Comments and Our Response

The Deputy Commanding General, Operations Chief of Staff, USFOR-A, responding for the USFOR-A MNL Branch Chief, agreed with our recommendation to determine the rate per person per flight. The Chief of Staff stated that USFOR-A personnel have developed standard per person rates for contracted air transportation services and published these rates to Coalition partners. Therefore, the recommendation is closed.

Further, the Chief of Staff stated that USFOR-A personnel will obtain a monthly report of contracted air transportation services provided to Coalition partners from the Effective Visible Execution system and bill Pay-to-Play Coalition partners for the services beginning in the second quarter of FY 2021. The planned corrective actions are sufficient to resolve our recommendations to obtain flight usage data on a regular basis and initiate ACSA orders in AGATRS for billing. Therefore, the recommendations are resolved but will remain open. We will close the recommendations when we receive documentation to support that these actions have been completed.

Notifying the Coalition partners of the per person rates, developing a process to obtain the flight usage data, and determining a method for billing encompass elements of an agreement; therefore, the recommendation to establish an agreement with Coalition partners in order to seek reimbursement is resolved but will remain open. We will close the recommendation when we receive the signed ACSA order forms to support that the Coalition partners have agreed with the published rates, and method for reimbursement.

The ARCENT Chief of Staff, responding for the ARCENT MNL Branch Chief, agreed with our recommendation to conduct a review of all reimbursable services provided in Afghanistan to Coalition partners and establish internal controls over the ACSA program in Afghanistan. The Chief of Staff stated that ARCENT will establish internal controls that will include monthly engagements with the USFOR-A MNL Chief and lead ACSA coordinator. During the engagements, the ARCENT ACSA program manager will review the monthly Effective Visible Execution report of contracted aviation provided to USFOR-A. The Chief of Staff also stated that ARCENT will conduct a monthly review of all AGATRS transactions to ensure billing occurs in accordance with the standard flight rate. The planned corrective actions are sufficient to resolve our recommendation; therefore, the recommendation is resolved but will remain open. We will close the recommendation when we receive documentation to support that these actions have been completed.

This report is the product of Proj. No. D2020-D000RJ-0155.000.