Liberty Nation News

Bipartisan Bill Establishes Special IG for Ukraine

Time for greater oversight on Ukraine spending.

By: Dave Patterson
March 02, 2023 - 6:46 am  |  Opinion News Article

Legislation has been introduced to bring financial transparency to US spending in Ukraine. Last November, Liberty Nation reported that one way to create greater appeal for continued economic and military support for Ukraine was to have oversight by establishing a special inspector general. Critics of US expenditures for the Kyiv government see a never-ending stream of American tax dollars without accountability for how the money is spent. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has been overseeing money spent during the US presence in Afghanistan, and a similar oversight official could be installed for Ukraine. The bipartisan legislation is co-sponsored by Senators John Kennedy (R-LA), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS).

Bill Reintroduced to Ensure Support to Ukraine Spent Wisely

In May 2022, Senator Kennedy introduced a like bill that was out in front of legislators’ sentiments at the time. With co-sponsors, the Louisiana senator has reintroduced the bill to a legislature more cordial to the idea of getting oversight control over Ukraine spending. There is nothing unique about it; every significant US government spending program requires tight controls. The purposes of the Independent and Objective Oversight of Ukrainian Assistance Act are, as stated:

“To provide for the independent and objective conduct and supervision of audits and investigations relating to the programs and operations funded with amounts appropriated or otherwise made available to Ukraine for military, economic, and humanitarian aid…to promote economic efficiency and effectiveness…to prevent and detect waste, fraud, and abuse…”

The money spent to support Ukraine will top $113 billion, with more on the way. Good stewardship of American tax dollars ensures that money is spent in a manner that will support the Kyiv government’s most effective capability to meet and defeat the Russian invaders.

Like all government initiatives, the Special IG for Ukraine will cost something. To that end, the bill sets aside $20 million from the Department of State Fiscal Year 2024 amount appropriated for Assistance for Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia. To keep Americans informed, the Ukraine Special IG must provide quarterly reports on expenditures for “project-by-project and program-by-program accounting of costs.”

“This is not an act of charity. It’s bolstering our own national security. American taxpayers deserve to know that their money is helping Ukraine defeat Putin effectively, and Congress needs to guarantee that oversight,” Kennedy said in a press statement. Senator Sinema echoed the Louisiana legislator, explaining, “The United States continues to stand with the people of Ukraine, and by establishing a Special Inspector General for Ukrainian Assistance, we ensure accountability for Americans and Ukrainians as they defend their homes and freedoms from Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war.”

DOD Witnesses Not Clear on Effective Spending for Ukraine

The problem of adequately ensuring that the money and weapons sent to Ukraine are being used for the intended purposes is becoming more important for both political parties. During questioning of Colin Kahl, undersecretary of Defense for policy, at a February 28, House Armed Services Committee hearing, “Reps. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) and Joe Courtney (D-CT) asked how the US was ensuring that weapons were not ending up misused by the Ukrainian government or sold on the international black market,” The Hill reported. Kahl responded that he had not observed misused US weapons or funding or that military equipment was being sold. As an undersecretary for policy, it is not likely that the appropriate end-use of aid to Ukraine would come to his attention. But the Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General Robert Storch is responsible for the efficient and effective use of defense funding.

At the same hearing, Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) put some difficult questions to IG Storch on whether the DOD had been in compliance with existing statutes. “You cannot testify truthfully under oath the DOD has complied with the policy and law regarding the end-use, isn’t that right? You cannot testify that we have complied with the end-use monitoring requirements at all times during this conflict,” Gaetz probed. Mr. Storch did not answer the question directly but played the “we can talk about that in a classified session” card.

As added protection for the taxpayer, Kennedy’s legislation has a sunset clause. When the funding for Ukraine dips below $250 million annually, authorization and funding for the special IG will be terminated. Americans deserve to know their tax dollars are being spent wisely. Supporting Ukraine may be a worthy effort, but it doesn’t do the Kyiv government any good if aid designated for the war fight is used ineffectively. Having a special inspector general for Ukraine assistance oversight is a step toward good stewardship of federal dollars.

The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.