So far, there is no indication that we are doing any of that, even though accountability to the American public is at stake.
The American public has the right to know what is done in its name and with its tax dollars. We must ensure that the SIGAR and future special inspectors general can prevent waste, fraud and corruption. The alarm is going off. Will we support oversight before the smoke leads to fire with no one there to extinguish it? Will we draw the lessons that oversight and accountability can’t be withdrawn with our troops and plan for the inevitable next time?
The president and Congress must support the SIGAR and the public in facing this challenge to oversight capabilities. It is beyond time to finally have a comprehensive plan for oversight and accountability not just for the war, but for the peace. Investing resources in oversight prevents new crises from occurring and supports the public’s right to know what is done in their name. Effective oversight and open government go hand in hand. As Sopko said in February, “At the end of the day, the American people need to know what the U.S. reconstruction effort has accomplished in Afghanistan.” We couldn’t agree more.
Patrice McDermott is executive director of OpenTheGovernment.org, and author of “Who Needs to Know? The State of Public Access to Federal Government Information.”