Foreign Assistance: Continued Efforts Needed to Strengthen USAID's Oversight of U.S. Democracy Assistance for Cuba Page: 2 of 40
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Accountability* Integrity* Reliability
Highlights of GAO-09-165, a report to the
Chairman, Subcommittee on International
Organizations, Human Rights, and
Oversight, Committee on Foreign Affairs,
House of Representatives
Why GAO Did This Study
The U.S. Agency for International
Development's (USAID) Cuba
Program provides assistance to
support human rights and promote
nonviolent democratic change in
Cuba. From 1996 through 2008, the
program awarded $83 million in
grants to nongovernmental
organizations and universities. In
2006, GAO found weaknesses in
program oversight that increased
the risk of grantees' improperly
using grant funds and failing to
comply with U.S. laws. In 2008,
misuse of grant funds at
organizations with the program's
two largest grants was detected.
GAO was asked to examine (1)
actions that USAID has taken since
2006, or plans to take, to improve
its award and oversight of the Cuba
Program's grants and (2) actions
that USAID has taken in response
to the recently detected misuses of
grant funds. GAO analyzed USAID
and grantee records, conducted
limited reviews at five grantees,
and interviewed agency and
GAO recommends that USAID (1)
ensure that the Cuba Program is
staffed at the level needed to fully
implement planned monitoring
activities and (2) periodically
assess the program's overall efforts
to reduce grantee risks.
Commenting on a draft of this
report, USAID said that it was
working to ensure the Cuba
Program has adequate staffing for
strong program oversight and that
it would take steps to periodically
assess the program's overall efforts
to address grantee risks.
To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on GAO-09-165.
For more information, contact David Gootnick
at (202) 512-3149 or email@example.com.
Continued Efforts Needed to Strengthen USAID's
Oversight of U.S. Democracy Assistance for Cuba
What GAO Found
Since 2006, USAID has taken a number of steps to address identified problems
with the Cuba Program's awards of democracy assistance and improve
oversight of the assistance. For example, USAID has competitively awarded
all Cuba Program grants since 2006, compared with 5 percent of grants
awarded in 1995-2006; has hired more staff for the program office since
January 2008; and contracted in April 2008 for financial services-such as
reviews of grantee internal controls and procurement systems-to enhance
oversight of grantees. USAID also has worked to strengthen program
oversight by, for instance, ensuring preaward and follow-up reviews,
improving grantee internal controls and implementation plans, and providing
guidance and monitoring about permitted types of assistance and cost
sharing. However, USAID has not staffed the Cuba Program at the level the
agency has determined is needed for appropriate oversight; as of October
2008, the program office had five staff, compared with the 11 recommended in
two USAID assessments. Further, because many of USAID's actions to
improve oversight were initiated recently, their impact on the risk of the
program grantees misusing grant funds or failing to comply with U.S. laws and
regulations is not yet evident. In June 2008, for example, USAID's new
financial services contractor found unsupported purchases at the organization
with the program's largest grant.
In response to the misuse of funds at organizations with the two largest Cuba
Program grants, USAID suspended the two grantees in March and July 2008,
respectively, pending the results of criminal investigations. To detect financial
vulnerabilities at other grantees, USAID announced in mid-July 2008 that it
would accelerate planned reviews of program grantees' procurement systems
and initiate audits of their incurred cost, and it partially suspended two
additional grantees pending the results of the procurement reviews. The
program's other grants remained active pending the results of these reviews
and audits. The procurement reviews-completed in August 2008 by the new
financial services contractor-identified internal control, financial
management, and procurement weaknesses at three grantees; USAID is
working with the grantees to correct these weaknesses. The USAID Inspector
General will oversee the incurred cost audits, which USAID expects to be
completed by November 2008 under a separate contract with another firm.
.United States Government Accountability Office
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Foreign Assistance: Continued Efforts Needed to Strengthen USAID's Oversight of U.S. Democracy Assistance for Cuba, report, November 24, 2008; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc298863/m1/2/: accessed September 26, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.