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).

Blue Energy Ambassadors Held Powwow in Paris

Lots of get-togethers going on these days. Yes, you probably do this in spring/fall overseas because summer is the traditional transfer and R&R seasons. Or maybe not.  Over in Europe, I understand that there was a big do organized by the US Ambassador to Paris, Charles Rivkin. 

US Ambassador to Finland, Bruce Oreck blogged about the event:

“[A]n unprecedented gathering hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to France, my friend Charles Rifkin, to accelerate the implementation of  energy efficiency technology and sustainability practices in U.S. Embassies.”

“This two day event brought together business leaders, representatives from Washington D.C., senior management from over 20 U.S. Embassies and 9 U.S. Ambassadors.  There were some serious power lunches there to help lay out a series of next steps – implementations with real metrics.”

He also writes that “I hope soon to announce a major undertaking at our Embassy that could be a pilot for similar projects around Europe and beyond.”

(L to R) United States Ambassadors Speckhard (Greece),
Solomont (Spain and Andorra), King (USUN),
Rifkin (France), Oreck (Finland), Stroum (Luxembourg),
Beyer (Switzerland), Eacho (Austria) and Barzun (Sweden)
Photo from Ambassador Oreck’s blog

There are some 40 ambassadors in the EUR bureau. Although apparently participated by senior management from 20 embassies, only nine ambassadors were in attendance at this event. What is most striking to us is — only one of the nine ambassadors in attendance is also career diplomat.  That’s Ambassador Speckhard who is posted in Greece (and previously a DCM at US Embassy Baghdad).  What’s up with that? Did somebody mess up the invite list?

The Ambassador and the Curling Consuls

Okay, okay, I could not resist the Curling Consuls.  Our Ambassador to Ottawa, David Jacobson recently had a “Principal Officers Conference” with the United States Consuls General from our seven consulates around Canada. That includes Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Quebec City, Montreal and Halifax. The Ambassador’s blog post says that they were joined by the head of the Canadian Affairs Office at the State Department and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for North America.

He added: “I have been in Canada for 6 months and we wanted to discuss where we’ve been and where we’re going. The three days were filled with meetings until we finished at lunchtime on Friday. But before everyone left for home we met at the Rideau Curling Club to try out the sport I have been obsessed with since the Olympics: Curling.”

The blog post also includes the Ambassador blog confession: “I decided that any sport where the greatest curler in the world is bald is my kind of game.”

 Ambassador Jacobson trying his hand at Curling
Photo from the ambassador’s blog

I am presuming that those legs behind the ambassador with the curling brooms showing are the consuls waiting to try their hands at curling. More photos here.  If you’re heading to Canada in the next two years, read more here. Click here for the Wikipedia entry on Curling and here for the basics of curling. Now, I probably do not need to point out that Curling is a team sport, and time spent on the ice learning the game could be considered a team building exercise. Wikipedia points out that more so than in many team sports, good sportsmanship is an integral part of curling.

Can we look forward to some photostreams at Flickr with our US diplomats assigned to Canada showing off their Curling skills?

Men curling in Ontario in 1909

Snapshot: Top 10 Recipients of US Foreign Aid in FY2010, FY 2011 RQ

In the FY2011 request, Afghanistan tops the list at nearly $4 billion, followed by Pakistan at $3 billion. This is in addition to significant supplemental funds—$2 billion and $370 million, respectively—requested for these countries for FY2010. Israel and Egypt would continue to receive significant funds, primarily for Foreign Military Financing, at $3 billion and $1.56 billion, respectively. Jordan would also continue to rank high on the list, with $682.7 million requested. Iraq, which dropped out of the top 10 list in FY2010 (though a request for more than $2 billion in FY2010 supplemental funds is pending), would be the fifth largest recipient of aid in FY2011, under the Administration request. Assistance to the other top recipients—Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and South Africa—is targeted primarily at HIV/AIDS and other health programs.

(click on table to enlarge image)

Extracted from
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs: FY2011 Budget and Appropriations (Congressional Research Service | May 5, 2010)  via Secrecy News.

Related Post:
Snapshot: Top 10 Recipients of US Foreign Aid (FY2009, FY2010 RQ)