Congress Considering Increased Oversight for Haiti Aid

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Tuesday, 25 May 2010 11:28
Congressional Quarterly reports today (subscription only) that stronger oversight and regulations would accompany the billion plus dollars allocated to Haiti in the 2010 war supplemental bill. According to CQ, most money would go through USAID, which "has been the subject of withering congressional criticism in recent years for its handling of the tens of billions in international development assistance". The article continues:
When it comes to tightening oversight of USAID, senators are focused on a series of reporting requirements in the bill, which is cosponsored by Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Tennessee Republican Bob Corker. Among them are submission by USAID of a detailed multi-year strategy for supporting the rebuilding of Haiti and annual reports on the strategy’s implementation, along with a Government Accountability Office review.

The bill would also create a new position — senior Haiti coordinator — reporting directly to the secretary of State.
Although the original funding request included additional resources for the USAID Inspector General, the renewed focus on accountability and transparency is essential to the reconstruction efforts. Although unprecedented funds have been allocated for relief efforts in Haiti, the reality on the ground is still dire. Shelter is often inadequate for the heavy rains, sanitation is still lacking and an outbreak of diphtheria last week only highlighted the need for better services. Despite billions raised, many aid organizations have been slow to spend the money on the ground. A recent CBS Evening News investigation revealed that some of the largest organizations have only spent between 8-25 percent of the money they have raised or been allocated.  Although they are certainly not alone, Catholic Relief Services has spent just $1.28 million on shelter at the time of the report, despite receiving a USAID contract specifically for shelter and sanitation worth over $21 million dollars.

Tags: american red cross | care | catholic relief services | oversight | usaid