Wednesday, May 12, 2010

USAID/OIG Reports on Civilian Assistance Program in Pakistan

Map of PakistanImage by Omer Wazir via Flickr
USAID/OIG has released its Quarterly Progress and Oversight Report on the Civilian Assistance Program in Pakistan. Excerpt below from the report:

In recognition of the importance of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Pakistan, the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-73, 123 Stat. 2060), a bipartisan bill sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Senators John Kerry, Richard Lugar, and 10 others, was signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 15, 2009. The Act articulates the U.S. intention to work with the Government of Pakistan to build mutual trust and confidence by actively and consistently pursuing a sustained, long-term, multifaceted relationship between the two countries, devoted to strengthening the mutual security, stability, and prosperity of both countries. The Act authorizes appropriations of $1.5 billion per year for fiscal years (FYs) 2010 through 2014, for a total of $7.5 billion to support programs described in Title I of the Act.

The Pakistan assistance strategy report submitted by the Department of State pursuant to the Act describes three key objectives of this long-term development assistance program:
  • Improve the Government of Pakistan’s capacity to address the country’s most critical infrastructure needs.
  • Help the Pakistani Government address basic needs and provide improved economic opportunities in areas most vulnerable to extremism.
  • Strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to pursue economic and political reforms that reinforce stability.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan, $1.8 billion in FY 2009 and FY 2010 funds has been obligated as of March 31, 2010. No expenditure information relating to these obligations is yet available.

During the period covered by this report—from the passage of the Act in October 2009 through March 31, 2010—the USAID Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued one performance audit and transmitted one financial audit to USAID for action. The performance audit concluded that a USAID program for building government and civil society capacity in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) had accomplished relatively little in terms of capacity building, although training had been delivered and initial steps had been taken to automate FATA institutions. The financial audit, covering $1.9 million in USAID funds managed by a Pakistani non-governmental organization (NGO), identified $335,172 in questioned costs and $41,770 in required cost sharing contributions that were either not made or were classified as ineligible questioned costs. The USAID OIG also made a criminal referral to the Department of Justice concerning evidence of illegal acts by employees of a USAID contractor and subcontractor.

During the same period, the Department of State OIG issued two performance audits that covered different aspects of counternarcotics programs in Pakistan. One of these audits, while focusing mainly on counternarcotics programs in Afghanistan, identified a need for more coordination and information sharing between the U.S. embassies in Afghanistan and Pakistan on counternarcotics matters. Additionally, the State OIG identified the major impediment to obtaining poppy free status as the breakdown in security that has negatively affected road projects, alternative crop programs, and poppy eradication, especially in FATA where most poppies are cultivated. The second audit, focusing on a program that supports a Pakistani Ministry of Interior Air Wing, concluded that the Air Wing program effectively provides aviation support for counternarcotics and other missions. Moreover, the program contractor has met safety and readiness requirements. However, a number of contract management and oversight issues need to be resolved.
It will be challenging to achieve the outcomes envisioned by the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act. All international development programs (as opposed to short-term humanitarian assistance programs) require a long-term orientation and sustained focus. The U.S. Government hopes that a large portion of its assistance programs in Pakistan will be implemented directly by Pakistani institutions, including the Government of Pakistan. It is hoped that implementing programs primarily through Pakistani institutions—with a correspondingly smaller role for U.S.-based contractors and grantees—will help build strong local institutions and reinforce the reputation and standing of the Government of Pakistan. While this approach is not unprecedented, it represents a fundamental change in the way the U.S. Government delivers civilian assistance in Pakistan. It will be important to monitor the degree to which both Governments maintain focus on the objectives outlined in the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act and also to monitor the effectiveness and accountability record of institutions that are chosen to carry out specific assistance programs.

Active links added above. Read the whole thing here (PDF).

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