Cablegate: Afghan First: Building Afghan Capacity, Leadership, And
DE RUEHBUL #3431/01 3000949
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 270949Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2503
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
INFO RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3864
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 4500
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC 0922
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC 0133
UNCLAS KABUL 003431
DEPT FOR S/SRAP, SCA/A, INL AND EEB
DEPT PASS FOR AID/ASIA SCAA
DOD FOR DUSD FOR BUSINESS AND STABILITY PAUL BRINKLEY
DOD FOR DASD DAVID SEDNEY
CENTCOM FOR USFOR-A
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON PGOV PREL AF
SUBJECT: AFGHAN FIRST: BUILDING AFGHAN CAPACITY, LEADERSHIP, AND
1. SUMMARY: Embassy Kabul and USFOR-A intend to implement "Afghan
First" to support Afghan leadership, capacity, and sustainability.
Procuring goods and services from Afghan companies promotes economic
development, supports the growth of a modern and competitive
business sector, and boosts Afghan employment. The coalition
military and development agencies are significant players in the
Afghan economy and our influence will be more positive to the extent
we actively partner with Afghans and Afghan companies to create
2. "Afghan First" means that, consistent with all applicable U.S.
law governing USG procurement and acting within legal authorities,
USG officials making procurement decisions for goods and services in
support of USG operations in Afghanistan, will actively solicit
Afghan suppliers who can immediately or prospectively meet our
requirements on a price, quantity, and quality competitive basis.
If necessary, procurement officers will work with appropriate U.S.
agencies, contractors and grantees to meet required price, quantity,
and quality standards within reasonable time horizons. Afghan firms
know the terrain and can often provide goods and services with
comparable quality at competitive prices. With a shorter supply
chain, local procurement is often the best way for the buyer to
maximize value and timely delivery of needed goods and services.
Such business engagement can broaden Afghan support for our mutual
strategic objectives in Afghanistan. But most importantly, it helps
local businesses to grow, gain experience, and generate jobs in the
industrial, commercial, and agriculture sectors. END SUMMARY
AFGHAN FIRST POLICY AND PROCEDURES
3. Maximizing local procurement in all USG and other foreign
procurement contributes directly to private-sector-led economic
development, something that is critically important to accomplish
our shared purpose: to support Afghan leadership, capacity, and
sustainability. Embassy Kabul and USFOR-A therefore intend to
implement a procurement policy of "Afghan First."
4. Local procurement can be faster, easier, and less expensive than
purchasing from vendors outside Afghanistan. For many products and
services -- e.g., building and construction machinery; manufacturing
components and supplies; electrical and lighting equipment; air and
ground transportation; office equipment and supplies -- local
quality standards may already meet the standards of imported
alternatives, or with focused and sustained effort, they may be
raised to world standards. Afghan First guiding principles include:
1) Substantive Afghan ownership, investment, employment presence,
and branding; 2) Demand-driven development; 3) Capacity-Development;
and 4) Effectiveness (employing local Afghans and Diaspora members
5. Increasing local procurement, at acceptable standards for
quality, quantity, price and reliability of supply, will require
sustained senior management attention (as permitted by procurement
regulations), and the dedication of those USG employees at all
levels regarding procurement decisions. All of us must be
innovative, proactive, and creative to implement "Afghan First."
IMPLEMENTING AFGHAN FIRST
6. Embassy Kabul and USFOR-A intend to use existing local resources
and Afghan business directories such as The Peace Dividend Trust
(PDT). The PDT is a non-profit organization that fosters and
implements innovations in peacekeeping and economic development.
Its goal is to make programs efficient, effective, and equitable.
Through USAID programs, the USG has supported local partners such as
PDT, which has been working in Afghanistan since January 2006 to
increase local procurement by connecting international buyers to
Afghan sellers. The PDT manages a database of about 3,500 Afghan
suppliers listed on PDT's webpage: www.buildingmarkets.org. The PDT
trains Afghan companies about bidding and performance issues.
7. To develop Afghan skills, we intend to: 1) retain Afghan firms
wherever possible; 2) consider transitioning from large contracts to
smaller contracts that Afghan businesses are more likely to be able
to fulfill. This breakdown may be geographic, with contracts broken
down into regional pieces; it could also be sector specific, with
multi-sectoral contracts broken down into sectoral pieces. A third
part of our effort to develop Afghan skills would be to coordinate
training programs for current or prospective suppliers or refer them
to an existing program with incentives to participate.
8. To encourage a greater response from Afghan businesses, Embassy
Kabul and USFOR-A intend to: 1) advertise tenders and contracts with
local communities, ensuring that the notice is printed in Dari and
Pashto; 2) simplify tender documents wherever possible so that they
are easier to read, understand, and respond to; 3) clearly identify
business contacts in each Mission section who are fluent in Dari and
Pashto; 4) make vendor registration procedures and key forms
available in Dari and Pashto; and 5) provide bid invitations and
tender documents free of charge to local Afghan businesses.
9. In terms of Human Resources, Embassy Kabul and USFOR-A intend to:
1) hire Afghan national staff directly and by contract wherever
possible; and 2) build capacity of national staff and provide
mentorship, training, and professional development opportunities.
We will continue to provide recognition, referrals, and
recommendations to support their professional development and
10. The U.S. Mission will work with UNAMA, USFOR-A, ISAF and
international organizations to increase procurement of Afghan
supplies and services for civilian and military activities. At the
Local Procurement Campaign Conference in June 2009, Ambassador Kai
Eide, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, challenged
conference participants to increase local procurement by at least
10%. By implementing Afghan First, the USG can establish targets to
meet and exceed this goal. USG procurement offices (including Human
Resources Offices) should record the procurement of all goods and
services, and analyze and report this data quarterly, e.g., by using
existing WebPass and eServices systems. Each quarterly analysis
should identify prospective ways and means to increase local
procurement of goods and services. In addition to posting this
information on our website, we will also share progress on local
procurement with the GIRoA, UNAMA, Peace Dividend Trust, and others.
Specifically, Embassy Kabul intends to sign and issue a joint
policy with USFOR-A to implement Afghan First to support Afghan
leadership, capacity, and sustainability via local procurement.