— Domani Spero
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We previously blogged recent items about USAID (see below):
- USAID “Poor” Morale Goes From 37% to 47%, Administrator Approval Rating Plummets From 78% to 58%
- USAID Egypt: An Official Lie Comes Back to Bite, Ouchy!
- USAID OIG: “The office is a watchdog not doing its job” — IG Nominee Withdraws Name
In response to WaPo’s Oct. 23 article “USAID watchdog said to alter reports,” USAID/OIG has released a two-page statement dated October 24 citing its “extensive track record of providing independent, robust oversight.” It has tweeted that October 24 statement multiple times since it was first linked to on Twitter on October 27.
@USAID_OIG Are you supposed to tweet this every day?
— Diplopundit (@Diplopundit) October 30, 2014
Yesterday, WaPo published a letter to the editor from Joseph Farinella, a senior FSO who was USAID/OIG director in Pakistan:
The Oct. 23 front-page article “USAID watchdog said to alter reports” cited a Sept. 30, 2012, inspector general’s report on an audit of a U.S. Agency for International Development assistance program in Pakistan. I was the inspector general director in Pakistan whose office conducted the audit. The article cited a draft audit finding placed in a confidential “management letter” rather than in the final published report. The inspector general’s chief of staff said that this was done because our work was not supported by evidence and more time was needed to develop information for a final report.
I recently retired as a senior Foreign Service officer with more than 40 years of worldwide audit experience in several organizations. Our finding on the program not operating efficiently and effectively was fully developed for inclusion in the final report. We provided examples of funds not used for main program goals, why this happened and the negative effect on the program.
Instead of a fully developed finding with recommendations in a published audit report, information was provided to the mission director in a letter. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said it all: “That’s ridiculous. The finding shouldn’t have been removed.”
Okay, maybe the USAID/OIG or his chief of staff would like to take a stab at this again?
Once more with feelings.
It seems to us that there is an easy remedy here for USAID/OIG if it really wishes to put these allegations to rest.
- First, release all the draft audit reports as a companion to each of the final reports that are the subject of these allegations. It will give us, the paying public, a way to gauge just how much sanitation work were or were not done with these reports.
- Second, USAID/OIG can release all the confidential “management letters” or “management alerts” it issued to USAID management, and all follow-up actions. The October 24, 2014 USAID/OIG statement says that “OIG’s current policy and practice is to post all management letters on its public Web site. This policy has been applied to management letters issued from April 2014 forward.” Okay, but that’s not any help with these allegations as there’s no way to tell how many “management letters” have actually been issued by USAID/OIG previous to April 2014. The allegation is that audit findings were placed on management letters that are not accessible to the public. So let’s see those management letters online and see which audit findings were not supported by evidence.
- Three, the WaPo report says that the allegations of improperly altered audit reports were independently examined last year by the National Labor Relations Board’s inspector general under the auspices of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE). Carroll’s chief of staff, Justin H. Brown, toldWaPo that “the confidential examination, which concluded in May 2013, “did not substantiate the allegations” and recommended that “no disciplinary or administrative action be taken.” Well, if that’s the case, why is that report still confidential? There’s no reason whyUSAID/OIG cannot ask the NLRB Inspector General to release that report to the public.Note that in 2010, a peer review report conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) OIG on behalf of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE), identified numerous troubling deficiencies in State/OIG MERO’s performance. That report was publicly available, although we cannot seem to locate it right now (see Peer Review Points to Quality Control Deficiencies in State/OIG’s MERO Audits, Job Opens for Assistant Inspector General).
These allegations go to the heart of USAID/OIG’s mandate as an independent overseer of the people’s money. Here now, we have an ex-auditor for a specific program publicly contradicting USAID/OIG’s official spin, not to mention the multiple whistleblowers who also came forward. Sorry, but a two-page statement touting the office’s “independent and robust oversight” will not be good enough to shut this down.
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