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Clarification to This Article
This article about a letter from four senators asking President Obama to remove Arnold Fields as the special inspector general for Afghanistan said the letter noted that Joseph Schmitz, a former Defense Department inspector general to whom Fields gave a no-bid consultant contract, "resigned in 2005 as he faced allegations of misconduct." The article accurately characterized the senators' letter but failed to state that Schmitz was exonerated of any wrongdoing by the Integrity Committee of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency in 2006.

4 senators seek removal of special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction

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By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 23, 2010; 8:58 PM

Four senators have asked President Obama to remove Arnold Fields as the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, saying a recent government review had found major deficiencies in audits carried out by Fields's office.

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Twice in the past 18 months "we have repeatedly raised concerns regarding performance of the SIGAR," wrote Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), chairman of the homeland security subcommittee on contracting oversight, who was joined in the letter by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). SIGAR is the abbreviation for Fields's office.

The act that triggered Thursday's letter was Fields's decision to give a no-bid $95,000 consultant contract to Joseph Schmitz, a former Defense Department inspector general who the senators noted resigned in 2005 amid allegations of misconduct.

"We urge you to act now. We are disappointed by your Administration's ongoing failure to take decisive action to make changes at SIGAR," the senators wrote.

SIGAR spokeswoman Susan Phelan said that Fields was en route to Afghanistan and that she had no direct comment on the senators' letter. Phelan said that Fields had welcomed recommendations made by the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, an independent government organization that carried out the review, and had vowed to implement them by Sept. 30.

Fields, a retired Marine Corps major general, was appointed to the position in June 2008 by President George W. Bush. According to Fields, his organization did not get full funding until July 2009.

In February 2010, the Council of Inspectors General began its review, which Fields initiated, according to SIGAR's Web site. That review "found multiple major deficiencies in SIGAR audits including failure to meet minimum standards for quality control," the senators wrote.

McCaskill and others have in the past recommended that the office of the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, a parallel organization run by Stuart W. Bowen Jr., a figure popular on Capitol Hill, be merged with SIGAR so that there is only one inspector general for work in both countries.

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