As the United States prepares to drastically increase civilian aid in Pakistan, the agency in charge has asked for help training the local organizations that will spend that aid money, saying those organizations “do not meet the minimum standards for managing” U.S. government funds.
…Charles Tiefer, a professor of government contracting at the University of Baltimore Law School, and a member of the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan that reports to Congress, said that USAIDâ€™s approach in Pakistan is “understandable, but risky.”
Last fall, President Obama signed a bill committing $7.5 billion in nonmilitary aid to Pakistan over five years. In December, we reported on the administrationâ€™s plan (PDF) to channel much of that money away from American contractors and nongovernmental organizations, directing it instead toward Pakistani organizations. Administration officials defended their approach , saying it would help build stronger Pakistani institutions. But the plan drew warnings from development experts, who questioned whether Pakistanâ€™s history of corruption and lax accounting standards would increase the risk to U.S. taxpayersâ€™ money.
“AID is on the horns of a dilemma,” he said. “They donâ€™t have enough local NGOs to help with the large amount of aid that Congress wants Pakistan to have. But by using local NGOs that donâ€™t keep the kind of reliable bookkeeping that AID and its inspector general require, they risk from time to time seeing some of their grant money evaporate without much sign itâ€™s doing what itâ€™s intended to do.”
2010-01-11 05:24:36 UTC