Cablegate: Afghan Government Requests Intervention in Contract Dispute


DE RUEHBUL #0538/01 0421248
O 111248Z FEB 10




E.O. 12958 N/A
SUBJECT: Afghan Government Requests Intervention in Contract Dispute
with ICAO

1. (SBU) This is an action request for U.S. Mission to ICAO, U.S.
Mission to NATO and FAA. See paragraph 8.

2. (SBU) Summary: The Ministry of Transportation and Civil Aviation
(MOTCA) is increasingly agitated by the performance of contractors
working for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
While successful in auditing several Afghan airlines, contracted
safety inspectors have made little progress in training Afghans or
creating policies and handbooks for MOTCA, tasks specified in the
contract agreement. MOTCA has asked ICAO to audit the project and
send management staff to Kabul for monitoring. During a visit by
FAA Acting Deputy Administrator David Grizzle, MOTCA officials asked
the USG to intervene and urge ICAO to fulfill the conditions of its
contract. Rather than address MOTCA's concerns, ICAO has asked NATO
for help in identifying new donors and expressed a desire to remove
oversight from the Minister - effectively sidelining Afghan
leadership of this important project. Post requests the Department
seek assistance from the U.S. Mission to ICAO and FAA in engaging
the organization and putting this expensive contract back on track.
End Summary.

3. (SBU) Using donor funding, MOTCA contracts with ICAO's Technical
Cooperation Bureau (TCB) for two projects in Afghanistan: a $16.8
million training program for air traffic management at Kabul
International Airport (KIA) ending June 2010 and a one-year aviation
safety contract that cost $1.2 million and will expire in March.
The air traffic management project supports transitioning KIA
operations from ISAF to Afghan civilian control and creating
professional standards at the airport.

4. (SBU) These programs have been in place for two years, under the
supervision of highly paid ($20,000/month) ICAO-employed
international contractors. In a November 1 letter to ICAO Project
Manager Steve Irwin, then-Minister of Transport Hamidullah Farooqi
complained the contractors have not executed their assigned tasks
and instead spend most of their time at the Ministry. He said
contractors have only trained 16 Afghans in basic air traffic
control, and of those, ten had already received Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA)-sponsored training. The contractors have not
compiled manuals, equipped the Civil Aviation Training Institute or
purchased $5.1 million of equipment necessary for training as
specified in the MOTCA - ICAO scope of work. Several USG employees
who work directly with MOTCA have confirmed the absence of these
activities. In the letter, Farooqi said MOTCA will not release the
final $1.8 million due to ICAO until he receives full accounting of
the program.

5. (SBU) On December 13, Farooqi sent a letter to ICAO Secretary
General Raymond Benjamin requesting that ICAO complete a full
external and performance audit of the program by February 1. A
provision allowing such an audit is included in the contract. ICAO
responded January 5 that it was searching for an auditor after the
firm it usually employs declined to take the case. (Note: This
letter did not reach MOTCA until February 9, when Post received and
forwarded it. End note.)

6. (SBU) In a series of meetings in early February with FAA Acting
Deputy Administrator David Grizzle, Deputy Minister of
Transportation Raz Alami asked Grizzle to intercede in this
sensitive matter. (Note: Following Afghan elections, Farooqi was not
reappointed as Minister. We expect a new Minister to be in place in
March.) Alami said he was hesitant to escalate the conflict
directly due to Afghanistan's relationship with ICAO, which will
audit its airports and aviation security.

7. (SBU) Rather than addressing MOTCA's concerns and threats to
withhold further funding, ICAO has approached NATO for assistance.
The ICAO project manager reported February 6 that ICAO plans to ask
NATO to help it obtain donor funding for a $100 million extension
and expansion of the existing program -- circumventing the Afghan
Government and its concerns. The ICAO representative said he
believes somebody "above" the Minister of Transportation needs to
oversee the contract. This contradicts USG goals to build capacity
within MOTCA, which has so far shown proper financial management of
this program. NATO has consistently attempted to assist ICAO
without taking into account feedback from MOTCA, which we also
believe is counterproductive. Post is working with MOTCA to form a
Civil Aviation Working Group composed of major donors, in which this
and other capacity building issues can be addressed. This group is
tentatively scheduled to meet for the first time in April.

8. (SBU) Action Request: Post requests the Department ask the U.S.
Mission to NATO to provide more information regarding NATO plans to
support and seek funding for this program. Post also requests the
Department seek U.S. Mission to ICAO and FAA Headquarters to raise
this issue at the highest levels of ICAO and remind the organization

of its obligation to work through the Afghan Government and abide by
the terms of the contract.


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