2 deputies fired from Afghan watchdog group

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By Richard Lardner
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The U.S. official assigned to combat corruption in the multibillion-dollar effort to rebuild Afghanistan, who has been criticized by lawmakers for incompetence and mismanagement, fired two top deputies Tuesday and pledged to focus on financial fraud and waste.

Arnold Fields, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said that the organization's upper ranks needed "new blood," and he rejected the idea that the changes were made to keep him from being fired.

"This is about making SIGAR a better organization," he said, using the shorthand name for his office.

Last fall, key members of Congress urged President Obama to dismiss Fields. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who chaired the contracting oversight subcommittee, joined GOP Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.), Charles E. Grassley (Iowa) and Susan Collins (Maine) in calling SIGAR a "failing organization" in need of new leadership.

The senators said that Fields's office has failed to aggressively oversee the $56 billion the United States has committed since 2002 to improving schools, roads, electricity and medical facilities in Afghanistan.

Fields said he removed John Brummet, the assistant inspector general for audits, and Raymond DiNunzio, the assistant inspector general for investigations. Their deputies will serve in acting capacities while Fields searches for replacements. DiNunzio will remain with the organization for 60 to 90 days as an adviser, Fields said. Brummet might also stay on for a limited period in a different capacity, Fields said.

- Associated Press


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