The Global Discovery program, launched in 2008, was supposed to be completed in 2012 with a total cost of $22 million. The latest estimates show that the funding has exceeded $86 million, while the aircraft remains inoperable and has never actually flown in Afghanistan, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in the US Department of Justice (DOJ) said in its audit of the Global Discovery initiative.
"We believe that the more than $86 million spent on the purchase and modification of the DEA's ATR 500 aircraft with advanced surveillance capabilities to support the DEA's counternarcotics mission in Afghanistan has been an ineffective and wasteful use of government resources," the OIG reported.
The agency also found that the Drug Enforcement Administration "did not fully comply" with federal acquisition regulations when choosing a plane. In addition, the DEA transferred the aircraft to the Pentagon's contractors without a written agreement that would outline the details of and the timeframe for the upgrade process.US Defense Department contemplated pulling the plug on the program in late 2014. The agency spent nearly $66 million on the ATR 42-500 modifications but needed additional $6 million to "repair damages observed during attempts to modify the aircraft." Incidentally, a new ATR 42-500 could have been purchased for $6 million at the time.
The OIG launched an investigation in response to a complaint from a whistleblower.
Even if the required upgrades are made, the plane will most likely not be deployed to Afghanistan since the DEA has ceased its operations there.