This is the accessible text file for GAO report number GAO-06-645 
entitled 'Foreign Assistance: USAID Completed Many Caribbean Disaster 
Recovery Activities, but Several Challenges Hampered Efforts' which was 
released on May 30, 2006. 

This text file was formatted by the U.S. Government Accountability 
Office (GAO) to be accessible to users with visual impairments, as part 
of a longer term project to improve GAO products' accessibility. Every 
attempt has been made to maintain the structural and data integrity of 
the original printed product. Accessibility features, such as text 
descriptions of tables, consecutively numbered footnotes placed at the 
end of the file, and the text of agency comment letters, are provided 
but may not exactly duplicate the presentation or format of the printed 
version. The portable document format (PDF) file is an exact electronic 
replica of the printed version. We welcome your feedback. Please E-mail 
your comments regarding the contents or accessibility features of this 
document to Webmaster@gao.gov. 

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright 
protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed 
in its entirety without further permission from GAO. Because this work 
may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the 
copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this 
material separately. 

Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export 
Financing and Related Programs, Committee on Appropriations, House of 
Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

GAO: 

May 2006: 

FOREIGN ASSISTANCE: 

USAID Completed Many Caribbean Disaster Recovery Activities, but 
Several Challenges Hampered Efforts: 

Foreign Assistance: 

GAO-06-645: 

GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-06-645, a report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on 
Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs, Committee on 
Appropriations, House of Representatives. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

In September 2004, Hurricane Ivan and Tropical Storm Jeanne passed 
through the Caribbean, taking lives and causing widespread damage in 
several countries. After initial U.S. emergency relief, in October 2004 
Congress appropriated $100 million in supplemental funding, primarily 
for Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti, which were significantly affected. The 
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), leader of the U.S. 
recovery programs, agreed, in consultation with the Office of 
Management and Budget, to complete the programs by December 31, 2005, 
giving the agency a 1-year time frame. GAO was asked to (1) review the 
nature and status of the programs in Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti as of 
December 31, 2005; (2) identify factors that affected the programs’ 
progress; and (3) assess USAID’s use of guidance and lessons learned 
from previous similar programs and efforts to draw lessons from the 
current programs. 

What GAO Found: 

As of December 31, 2005, USAID had spent about 77 percent of funds 
allocated for assistance in Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti and completed 
many disaster recovery activities, such as providing business and 
agriculture grants. However, the agency significantly reduced its 
targets for building and repairing houses, in part because of cost 
increases, and granted contractors extensions to complete some of these 
projects. 

Severe weather delayed the progress of recovery activities in Jamaica 
and Haiti—for example, two hurricanes in the summer of 2005 disrupted 
Jamaican housing repairs. In addition, difficulty coordinating 
activities with the Grenadian and Jamaican governments hampered housing 
construction. Further, other construction-related challenges—for 
example, shortages of cement—delayed projects in Grenada and Jamaica. 
Finally, frequent security problems in Haiti hindered contractors’ 
progress. 

USAID has not issued guidance that incorporates lessons learned from 
previous recovery and reconstruction programs, such as ways to mitigate 
challenges commonly faced in rebuilding after disasters. USAID staff 
inexperienced with disaster recovery efforts said that this made it 
difficult to design and implement the programs. Further, in agreeing to 
complete the programs within 1 year, USAID faced challenges in 
designing a broad spectrum of activities that would help rebuild 
residents’ lives and that could be sustained after the programs ended. 
In addition, the agency did not adopt recommendations from GAO and 
USAID reviews of past recovery programs that could have helped it more 
rapidly hire and transfer staff for the Caribbean programs. Although 
the agency contracted with a management firm to quickly staff its 
program in Grenada and Jamaica, this led to additional challenges, such 
as confusion about the management firm’s roles and responsibilities in 
relation to USAID staff and other contractors. USAID staff and 
contractors are recording lessons learned from the programs in each 
country. 

Figure: New Housing Construction in Jamaica (left) and Grenada: 

[See PDF for Image] 

[End of Figure] 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO recommends that the USAID Administrator (1) develop disaster 
recovery and reconstruction guidance that incorporates lessons learned 
from the current and previous programs and (2) revise staffing 
procedures to facilitate the rapid reassignment or hiring of needed 
personnel for postdisaster recovery and reconstruction programs. USAID 
agreed with our recommendations. 

[Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-645]. 

To view the full product, including the scope and methodology, click on 
the link above. For more information, contact David Gootnick at (202) 
512-3149 or gootnickd@gao.gov. 

[End of Section] 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Results in Brief: 

Background: 

USAID Completed Numerous Recovery Efforts within 1 Year but Granted 
Extensions for Many Construction Projects: 

Various Factors Slowed USAID's Implementation and Completion of Program 
Activities: 

Lack of Formal Program Guidance, Time Frame, and Staffing Issues 
Contributed to Implementation Problems: 

Conclusions: 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology: 

Appendix II: Summary of Lessons Learned from USAID Disaster Recovery 
and Reconstruction Efforts: 

Appendix III: Comments from the U.S. Agency for International 
Development: 

Appendix IV: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Related GAO Products: 

Tables: 

Table 1: USAID Key Nonconstruction-Related Recovery Activities in 
Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti, as of December 31, 2005: 

Table 2: USAID Key Construction-Related Recovery Activities in Grenada, 
Jamaica, and Haiti, as of December 31, 2005: 

Table 3: Number and Types of Activities at Project Sites GAO Visited in 
Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti: 

Figures: 

Figure 1: Areas and Extent of Hurricane Damage in Grenada, Jamaica, and 
Haiti: 

Figure 2: Recovery and Reconstruction Allocations by Country: 

Figure 3: USAID Allocation and Expenditure for Disaster Recovery 
Assistance for Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti, as of December 31, 2005: 

Figure 4: USAID-Supported Drainage Canal Cleanup in Haiti: 

Figure 5: USAID-Funded School Repair in Grenada: 

Abbreviations: 

Hurricane Ivan Program: Hurricane Ivan Recovery and Rehabilitation 
Program: 
NGO: nongovernmental organization: 
OFDA: Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance: 
OMB: Office of Management and Budget: 
ONR: Office of National Reconstruction, Jamaica: 
RIG: Regional Inspector General: 
Tropical Storm Program: Tropical Storm Jeanne Recovery Program: 
USAID: U.S. Agency for International Development: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 

Washington, DC 20548: 

May 26, 2006: 

The Honorable Jim Kolbe: 
Chairman: 
Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related 
Programs: 
Committee on Appropriations: 
House of Representatives: 

Dear Mr. Chairman: 

In September 2004, Hurricane Ivan struck several Caribbean islands, 
including Grenada and Jamaica, where it killed 59 people and inflicted 
damage of about $1.4 billion. In the same month, Tropical Storm Jeanne 
struck parts of Haiti with heavy rains, causing flash floods that 
killed more than 2,000 people, affected an estimated 300,000 others 
through loss of homes, schools, and livelihoods, and caused an 
estimated $300 million in damage. The United States and other 
donors[Footnote 1] responded initially to these disasters by providing 
emergency relief, such as food, water, medical supplies, and temporary 
shelter. In October 2004, recognizing the need for longer-term recovery 
and reconstruction assistance, Congress passed a supplemental 
appropriation allocating $100 million for additional hurricane recovery 
efforts in the Caribbean.[Footnote 2] The U.S. Agency for International 
Development (USAID), designated to lead the U.S.-funded assistance, 
initiated the Hurricane Ivan Recovery and Rehabilitation Program 
(Hurricane Ivan Program) in Grenada and Jamaica and the Tropical Storm 
Jeanne Recovery Program (Tropical Storm Program) in Haiti in January 
2005.[Footnote 3] Following discussions with the Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB), USAID agreed to complete the programs by December 31, 
2005--that is, within 1 year of initiating the programs; this time 
frame is shorter than for previous USAID disaster recovery and 
reconstruction programs, such as USAID's program in Central America 
following Hurricane Mitch. In addition, instead of transferring or 
directly hiring staff, as it has done in the past, USAID hired a 
management firm, Wingerts Consulting, to quickly staff and establish 
the programs in Grenada and Jamaica. 

Having previously examined U.S. efforts to provide disaster recovery 
assistance,[Footnote 4] we were asked to monitor USAID's delivery of 
the assistance in the Caribbean. In this report, we (1) review the 
recovery and reconstruction activities in Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti, 
including the status of the activities as of December 31, 2005; (2) 
identify factors that affected USAID's ability to implement and 
complete the programs within the 1-year time frame; and (3) assess 
USAID's use of guidance and application of lessons learned from similar 
previous programs and its efforts to draw lessons from the current 
programs. 

To address these matters, we reviewed USAID's objectives and oversight 
strategy for the Hurricane Ivan and Tropical Storm Programs. We made 
several trips to Grenada and Jamaica and one trip to Haiti.[Footnote 5] 
In all three countries, we reviewed program documents and interviewed 
USAID staff, private contractors, and host government officials. We 
visited 80 project sites, most of them randomly selected, in Jamaica 
and Grenada as well as nine project sites in Haiti that were not 
randomly selected. We also analyzed program expenditure and activity 
data, having assessed the data's reliability and finding it sufficient 
for our purposes. We conducted our work from March 2005 through May 
2006 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing 
standards. (See app. I for a more detailed discussion of our scope and 
methodology). 

Results in Brief: 

USAID completed many of the activities that it implemented in Grenada, 
Jamaica, and Haiti within the 1-year time frame, but the agency 
required additional time to finalize many construction-related 
projects. Of the $92.4 million allocated for recovery and 
reconstruction in the three countries, USAID expended $71.3 million, or 
about 77 percent. In Grenada and Jamaica, USAID completed a range of 
non-construction-related recovery activities, including providing 
business and agriculture recovery grants, technical assistance to 
farmers, and grants to fisherfolk or artisans. In Haiti, USAID's 
completed nonconstruction activities included restoring irrigated 
farmland and hillsides, removing mud from streets and canals, and 
issuing household support grants. USAID also initiated construction- 
related projects, including repairing houses and public facilities and 
building new homes in Grenada and Jamaica and repairing homes, public 
facilities, and infrastructure in Haiti. However, in part because of 
increases in the cost of materials and labor, USAID lowered initial 
targets for many of these projects--for example, reducing new housing 
targets in Grenada from 150 to 55, house repair targets in Jamaica from 
3,450 to 932, and house repair targets in Haiti from 3,000 to 600. 
However, USAID contractors did not achieve the adjusted targets for 11 
of the 14 construction activities. In November 2005, USAID granted the 
contractors in Grenada and Jamaica a 6-month extension to complete 
approximately 240 new houses and finish other construction activities. 
In September 2005, contractors in Haiti received an 18-month extension 
to complete housing and infrastructure repairs but expected to finish 
these projects by June 2006.[Footnote 6] 

Several factors hampered USAID's ability to implement and complete 
program activities within the 1-year time frame. First, periods of 
severe weather delayed construction and some agriculture activities in 
Jamaica as well as some construction projects in Haiti. Second, 
coordination challenges in Grenada and Jamaica negatively affected 
USAID's implementation and completion of construction projects. For 
example, the Grenadian government lacked a central agency to identify 
needs and coordinate hurricane recovery efforts, and Jamaica's Office 
of National Reconstruction did not complete certain construction 
activities it had agreed to, delaying USAID's completion of new houses. 
Third, construction-related challenges, including difficulty in 
identifying housing recipients who could demonstrate land ownership, 
delayed construction activities in the three countries. Finally, 
according to USAID officials, ongoing security challenges disrupted the 
work in Haiti, leading, for example, to the temporary evacuation of 
some USAID staff during the summer of 2005. 

USAID staff reported that a lack of guidance incorporating lessons 
learned from previous USAID recovery and reconstruction programs led to 
design and implementation challenges; further, the agency did not adopt 
prior recommendations regarding time frames and staffing, resulting in 
additional problems. Although USAID has managed several recovery and 
reconstruction programs since 1999, it has not issued guidance that 
incorporates lessons learned from designing and implementing such 
programs. For example, if USAID officials had had access to lessons 
learned regarding likely increases in postdisaster demand for 
construction materials and labor, it might have helped them to 
establish more realistic targets for activities to be achieved within a 
1-year time frame. Staff who designed the activities told us that they 
applied some lessons from prior reconstruction programs--for example, 
hiring monitoring firms to assist with technical and financial 
oversight of program activities. However, in agreeing to complete 
activities by December 31, 2005, USAID did not take into account 
lessons learned regarding implementation time frames. It also faced 
trade-offs in trying to complete a broad spectrum of activities within 
1 year while ensuring that activities had the intended impact of 
helping beneficiaries find jobs in the postdisaster environment and 
could be sustained by host government staff after the programs were 
completed. For instance, to finish activities within the 1-year time 
frame, USAID contractors in Grenada designed job skills training to 
last 6 weeks, but participants later reported that the training had 
been too brief to develop some skills, such as those needed for 
construction work. The contractors told us that a longer time frame 
would have allowed them to assess and adjust the training to make it 
more sustainable. In addition, at the time of our review, the agency 
had not adopted prior GAO and USAID recommendations for revising agency 
procedures to quickly hire or reassign staff with technical skills to 
manage disaster recovery activities. In order to quickly staff its 
program in Grenada, which has no USAID mission, the agency hired a 
management and oversight firm to manage program activities. However, 
USAID staff and contractors told us that the use of this firm led to 
several implementation problems, such as confusion about roles and 
responsibilities and redundant layers of oversight. USAID staff and 
contractors in all three countries are recording lessons learned that 
could be valuable in future efforts. 

We are recommending that, to better facilitate the design and 
implementation of USAID's disaster recovery and reconstruction programs 
and address ongoing staffing issues, the USAID Administrator develop 
guidance that incorporates lessons learned from the Hurricane Ivan, 
Tropical Storm Jeanne, and other USAID recovery and reconstruction 
programs and revise staffing procedures to facilitate the rapid 
reassignment or hiring of needed personnel for longer-term recovery 
programs. We provided a draft of this report to USAID, the Department 
of State, and OMB. We received a formal comment letter from USAID (see 
app. III), in which they agreed with our recommendations. USAID and OMB 
provided technical comments that we incorporated, as appropriate. The 
Department of State provided no comments. 

Background: 

In September 2004, four major hurricanes and storms, including Ivan and 
Jeanne, caused extensive damage in the Caribbean, particularly in 
Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti. Figure 1 shows the paths of Hurricane Ivan 
and Tropical Storm Jeanne and describes the extent of damage in the 
three countries. 

Figure 1: Areas and Extent of Hurricane Damage in Grenada, Jamaica, and 
Haiti: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

Figure 2: Note: Map is not drawn to scale. 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

U.S. Emergency Relief and Immediate Recovery Assistance: 

USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) provided emergency 
relief, such as food, water and sanitation, and shelter, to address the 
urgent needs of those affected by the storms. Following OFDA's relief 
efforts in response to Hurricane Ivan, USAID directed existing agency 
funding to Grenada and Jamaica--$3.2 million and $7.3 million, 
respectively--for immediate recovery activities, including clearing 
farmland, cleaning up communities, and repairing houses and schools, 
that were carried out through June 30, 2005. Soon after Tropical Storm 
Jeanne struck Haiti, the U.S. government provided $11.8 million for 
immediate emergency relief and recovery assistance, including emergency 
food and water, as well as for cleaning up communities. 

U.S. Recovery and Reconstruction Assistance: 

Of the $100 million supplemental assistance that Congress approved for 
hurricane recovery and reconstruction activities in the Caribbean, 
USAID allocated $92.4 million to Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti.[Footnote 
7] Figure 2 shows the amount and percentage allocated to each country. 

Figure 2: Recovery and Reconstruction Allocations by Country: 

[See PDF for image] 

Note: Dollar amounts do not add due to rounding. 

[End of figure] 

Lacking a mission in Grenada, the agency administered the Hurricane 
Ivan Program from its Jamaica mission and Barbados satellite office, 
and it administered the Tropical Storm Program from its Haiti mission. 
Using a new approach to its program staffing, rather than reassign 
USAID staff or hire personal services contractors,[Footnote 8] the 
agency hired Wingerts Consulting to manage and oversee project 
activities in Grenada and Jamaica. Wingerts's responsibilities included 
monitoring program activities, reporting progress to the USAID mission 
in Jamaica, and coordinating USAID's efforts with the Grenadian and 
Jamaican governments and with other donors. 

USAID created special objectives for each country that defined the 
target areas for the recovery and reconstruction funding. For Grenada 
and Jamaica, the supplemental funding expanded the initial emergency, 
or a short-term response and aimed to help people quickly rebuild their 
communities, enhance and improve their skills, provide limited income 
support, and resume their path of sustainable development through 
activities that provide immediate income, skills training and 
employment opportunities. In Haiti, supplemental funds aimed to meet 
the immediate needs of Haitians affected by the tropical storm, help 
them regain sources of economic activity, and help them prepare for 
future natural disaster threats. According to USAID, recovery and 
reconstruction programs are essentially development programs with short 
time frames but share the same objectives of sustainable growth and 
prosperity. 

USAID Completed Numerous Recovery Efforts within 1 Year but Granted 
Extensions for Many Construction Projects: 

USAID completed many activities it implemented in Grenada, Jamaica, and 
Haiti by December 31, 2005. Of the $92.4 million allocated for recovery 
and reconstruction across the three countries, the agency expended 
$71.3 million. The agency implemented a variety of non-construction- 
related activities--for example, providing business rehabilitation 
grants in Grenada and Jamaica and implementing community cleanup 
activities in Haiti--and met or exceeded its targets for these projects 
within the 1-year time frame. In addition, it implemented a number of 
construction-related projects, such as repair and building housing and 
infrastructure. However, although USAID reduced targets, in part 
because of cost increases for these projects in all three countries, 
USAID contractors did not complete many of them by December 31, 2005-- 
in particular, new housing construction--and required extensions to 
finish these projects. 

USAID Expended Majority of Recovery Funds within 1 Year: 

As of December 31, 2005, USAID had expended approximately 77 percent of 
the $92.4 million that it allocated for recovery efforts in the three 
countries. Figure 3 shows program allocation and expenditure by 
country. 

Figure 3: USAID Allocation and Expenditure for Disaster Recovery 
Assistance for Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti, as of December 31, 2005: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

USAID Implemented Various Nonconstruction Recovery Activities: 

USAID implemented a variety of non-construction-related activities to 
help hurricane and storm survivors in Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti 
recover from the disasters, completing most of them within the 1-year 
time frame. USAID generally reached or exceeded its targets for 
nonconstruction recovery activities, despite having raised many of 
these targets after initiating the activities. We visited a total of 37 
non-construction-related sites to observe USAID's progress and 
interview beneficiaries. Table 1 shows a selection of USAID's initial 
and revised nonconstruction targets and its completed activities, in 
Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti as of December 31, 2005. 

Table 1: USAID Key Nonconstruction-Related Recovery Activities in 
Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti, as of December 31, 2005: 

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Grenada: People trained in 
tourism, construction, and other skills: 
Initial targets (January 2005): 1,600[A]; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 1,800; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 2,402; 

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Grenada: Grants for small and 
medium- size enterprises: 
Initial targets (January 2005): 200; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 200; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 192; 

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Grenada: Grants and technical 
assistance for farmers: 
Initial targets (January 2005): 450; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 1,327; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 1,427; 

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Grenada: Grants and technical 
assistance for fisherfolk:  
Initial targets (January 2005): 35; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 155; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 100; 

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Grenada: Government supported 
operations (dollars in millions): 
Initial targets (January 2005): $8; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): $8; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): $8; 

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Grenada: Primary schools 
resupplied and re- equipped: 
Initial targets (January 2005): 18; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 21; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 24. 

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Jamaica: Grants to small and 
medium-size enterprises[B]; 
Initial targets (January 2005): 2,500; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 2,451; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 11,478;

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Jamaica: Technical assistance 
for farmers; 
Initial targets (January 2005): 2,300; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 2,447; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 2,479;

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Jamaica: Grants for 
fisherfolk; 
Initial targets (January 2005): 1,500; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 2,700; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 2,855;

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Jamaica: Grants for artisans; 
Initial targets (January 2005): 100; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): `00; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 120;

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Jamaica: Primary schools and 
colleges resupplied and re-equipped; 
Initial targets (January 2005): 219; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 52; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 56;

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Haiti[C]: Irrigated land 
restored to full production; 
Initial targets (January 2005): 5,600 acres; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 6,474 acres; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 19; 

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Haiti[C]: Land protected with 
conservation methods; 
Initial targets (January 2005): 4,960 acres; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 4,960 acres; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 4,975 acres; 

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Haiti[C]: Communities trained 
in watershed management;
Initial targets (January 2005): 16; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 16; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 5,264 acres; 
 
Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Haiti[C]: Water associations 
trained in watershed management; 
Initial targets (January 2005): 61; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 51; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 0; 

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Haiti[C]: Mud removed from 
urban streets and canals; 
Initial targets (January 2005): 48,000 m[3]; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 48,000 m[3]; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 69,734 m[3]; 

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Haiti[C]: Asset restoration 
grants; 
Initial targets (January 2005): 3,000; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 3,000; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 3,023; 

Key nonconstruction recovery activities: Haiti[C]: Communities trained 
in disaster preparedness and mitigation; 
Initial targets (January 2005): 27; 
Revised targets (as of December 2005): 21; 
Completed activities (as of December 31, 2005): 21. 

Source: GAO analysis of USAID data. 

Notes: The table shows USAID's primary nonconstruction-related recovery 
activities in the three countries; the agency conducted other 
nonconstruction-related activities that are not shown. 

[A] Initial target reflects tourism and construction skills only; other 
skills were added later in the program and are reflected in the revised 
target number. 

[B] Grants to small and medium-size enterprises included assistance to 
business owners and farmers. 

[C] Initial targets for Haiti according to USAID's February 2005 
Tropical Storm Recovery Program report. 

[End of table] 

In all three countries, USAID provided assistance to revitalize 
businesses and agriculture. In addition, in Haiti, USAID also helped 
communities clear: 

away flood debris and take steps to prevent similar disasters in the 
future. Following are descriptions of several USAID nonconstruction 
activities in the three countries: 

* In Grenada, USAID provided grants averaging about $6,300 to small 
businesses (those with 5 to 24 employees) and grants averaging about 
$15,000 to medium-sized businesses (those with 25 to 75 employees) to 
reimburse them for hurricane-related repairs. We visited five grant 
recipients, each of whom reported using the grants to pay for repairs 
or purchase equipment. According to a survey conducted by the 
contractors that implemented these grants, about half of the businesses 
receiving assistance estimated that they reopened at least 6 months 
sooner than if they had had to finance the repairs themselves. 
Fisherfolk received grants averaging about $1,900 to replace fishing 
gear and equipment and repair boats. Many of the farmers and fisherfolk 
also received technical assistance--for example, farmers were taught 
techniques for turning backyard yam production into commercial 
production. 

* In Jamaica, USAID grants to poultry farmers allowed them to buy egg 
grading and cold storage equipment, which in turn will enable them to 
increase production and incomes. We visited six horticultural farmers 
who received grants from USAID consisting of a technology package, such 
as seedling nurseries, drip irrigation systems, or integrated pest 
management systems. According to USAID staff, they were able to provide 
an unexpectedly large number of grants (11,478 versus the revised 
target of 2,451) to small and medium-size enterprises because the 
implementing team decided to make several grants to individual 
beneficiaries as an incentive for beneficiaries to continue to adopt 
various new technologies and practices. According to a November 2005 
USAID report, agricultural production for farmers who received grant 
and technical assistance through the program was estimated to have 
increased by 41 percent compared with pre-Hurricane Ivan production 
levels. USAID also conducted workshops that taught artisans how to 
improve and develop products, procure goods and services, and package 
and label their merchandise. In addition, fisherfolk in Jamaica 
received grants and disaster preparedness training. For example, 
training courses in "Safe Seamanship and Environmental Management" were 
delivered to 295 fisherfolk. 

* In Haiti, USAID cleared streets of mud and improved urban drainage 
that had been damaged from flooding. In addition, USAID implemented a 
cash-for-work program that paid local workers about $2 per day for 
assisting with various activities throughout the program, including 
road and schools repair, mud removal, and clearing of urban drains (see 
fig. 4). Further, USAID funded training in disaster preparedness and 
response that, according to a report by a USAID contractor, aimed to 
"raise disaster awareness, reduce risks, and prepare for contingencies 
in vulnerable local communities and municipalities." Among the topics 
covered were forming community emergency response teams, designating 
first responders to coordinate emergency activities, and developing 
risk management and mitigation plans. 

Figure 4: USAID-Supported Drainage Canal Cleanup in Haiti: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

USAID Began Many Construction-Related Projects but Did Not Complete 
All: 

USAID initiated construction-related projects to repair or replace 
hurricane and storm-damaged structures in each of the three countries. 
However, USAID contractors did not complete a number of these projects, 
although USAID reduced its targets for many of the projects. According 
to USAID staff and contractors, rising costs in all three countries 
were a factor in USAID's decision to reduce construction targets. 
According to an April 2006 Regional Inspector General (RIG) audit of 
the Hurricane Ivan Program,[Footnote 9] the high cost of housing 
construction was due, in part, to the contractor's unfamiliarity with 
the local market, which led to the negotiation of unfavorable 
subcontracts. The report also indicated that the cost of houses 
financed by USAID in Grenada was 37 percent to 49 percent higher than 
comparable houses built by the Grenadian Housing Authority; and, in 
Jamaica, USAID-funded houses were more than double the cost of houses 
built by the Jamaican government. In addition, in Haiti, USAID staff 
indicated that a detailed needs survey found that the costs of material 
and labor needed to make repairs had more than doubled since the 
initial estimates. Table 2 shows a selection of USAID's initial and 
revised construction targets and its completed activities, in Grenada, 
Jamaica, and Haiti as of December 31, 2005. 

Table 2: USAID Key Construction-Related Recovery Activities in Grenada, 
Jamaica, and Haiti, as of December 31, 2005: 

[See PDF for Image] 

Source: GAO analysis of USAID data. 

Note: The table shows USAID's primary construction-related recovery 
activities in the three countries; the agency conducted other 
construction-related activities that are not shown. 

[End of table] 

In Grenada and Jamaica, USAID negotiated 6-month extensions of the 
bilateral agreements with the respective host governments in December 
2005 and, subsequently, granted contractors extensions of varying 
lengths based on the expectation that they could complete activities by 
June 30, 2006. In Haiti, USAID granted the contractor an 18-month 
extension in September 2005 to complete major infrastructure repair on 
a road and bridge; however, USAID officials managing the program said 
they expected to complete these activities by June 2006.[Footnote 10] 

In Grenada and Jamaica, USAID's construction efforts have focused 
primarily on repairing and rebuilding houses and building new homes, 
and in Haiti, on repairing infrastructure, public facilities, and 
houses. Following are descriptions of several of USAID's construction- 
related projects. 

* In Grenada, USAID is building 55 new houses on the sites of homes 
that had been destroyed by the hurricane. The new houses consist of 
lumber over a concrete slab and include septic systems and electrical 
connections. Of the 55 homes, 36 have an area of 400 square feet and 19 
have an area of 650 square feet, with the size of the house depending 
on the size of the household. We visited 11 housing construction sites 
in August 2005 and revisited five of them in December, at which time, 
for the most part, construction was just beginning. In addition, USAID 
has initiated repairs of houses, tourist sites, and schools, among 
other buildings (see fig. 5). 

Figure 5: USAID-Funded School Repair in Grenada: 

[See PDF for image] 

[End of figure] 

* In Jamaica, USAID is constructing 220-square-foot concrete-block 
houses in two sites provided by the Jamaican government. The Jamaican 
Office of National Reconstruction agreed to provide septic systems and 
electrical connections for the houses. Most of the beneficiaries are 
families whose houses were destroyed by the hurricane because they were 
close to the shore; the new housing sites are near the old sites but a 
safe distance from the shoreline. We visited the two sites in the early 
stages of construction and several months later, after construction had 
begun. As of January 2006, construction was well under way in the two 
communities, but none of the houses were complete. 

* In Haiti, USAID funded the construction of a bridge and the repair of 
a national road that runs from Gonaives to Cap-Haitien. According to 
USAID's contractor implementing infrastructure activities, repairs to 
the road will have a significant impact on the local economy by 
restoring farm-to-market transportation and supporting USAID's other 
rehabilitation projects in the area. According to USAID staff, as of 
December 2005, 60 percent to 70 percent of the road was completed. 

Various Factors Slowed USAID's Implementation and Completion of Program 
Activities: 

USAID's implementation and completion of recovery activities in 
Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti within the 1-year time frame were hampered 
by several factors. Severe weather in 2005 delayed the progress of some 
activities, in particular the reconstruction of houses in Jamaica and 
infrastructure in Haiti. Coordination challenges in Grenada and Jamaica 
contributed to delays in the implementation and completion of program 
activities. In addition, USAID contractors encountered various 
construction-related challenges, such as shortages of materials and 
labor, and difficulty in fulfilling USAID requirements. Haiti faced 
continued security challenges that limited access to recovery sites, 
consequently delaying progress. 

Severe Weather Delayed Program Activities in Jamaica and Haiti: 

Hurricanes and heavy rains in 2005 affected the progress of USAID 
reconstruction and recovery activities in Jamaica and Haiti. In 
Jamaica, two hurricanes during the summer of 2005, as well as heavy 
rain in October and November, contributed to delays in housing 
reconstruction and some agriculture activities, including the training 
of farmers. In Haiti, a heavier than usual rainy season delayed some 
USAID construction activities. Some structures that protected ongoing 
work on riverbank repair and irrigation pumps were washed away, and 
protective dikes had to be rebuilt. The heavy rain also damaged roads 
in many of the project areas, making it difficult to transport 
construction materials and field staff. 

Coordination Challenges Hindered USAID's Implementation and Completion 
of Activities in Grenada and Jamaica: 

USAID faced several coordination challenges in Grenada, owing in part 
to the agency's lack of a permanent presence in the country, which 
affected its ability to implement recovery activities. In Jamaica, 
USAID encountered challenges in coordinating with the government, which 
negatively affected its ability to complete new housing. 

* Coordination challenges in Grenada. Grenada lacked a central 
coordinating agency immediately following the hurricane to facilitate 
disaster recovery within the country. Because USAID has no mission in 
Grenada, staff and contractors had to work with various government 
ministries to initiate the recovery process. To address the lack of a 
central agency, USAID and other donors provided funds to help Grenada 
establish the Agency for Reconstruction and Development to coordinate 
donor hurricane recovery efforts; however, establishing the agency took 
several months, contributing to delays in certain activities, such as 
developing criteria for, and identifying, beneficiaries to receive 
housing repairs and reconstruction. 

* Coordination challenges in Jamaica. The government of Jamaica did not 
complete certain construction activities as agreed with USAID, delaying 
USAID's completion of new houses. Jamaica's Office of National 
Reconstruction (ONR), established by the government to coordinate 
Hurricane Ivan recovery activities, verbally agreed to provide, by 
December 31, 2005, concrete bases and install water, roads, and 
drainage infrastructure at the two sites selected for new USAID housing 
construction. However, USAID did not sign a memorandum of agreement 
with the Jamaican government that clearly designated the construction 
responsibilities of each party and deadlines for completion.[Footnote 
11] According to USAID officials and our observations during site 
visits, ONR made slow progress in fulfilling its part of construction 
activities and as of January 2006 had not installed electricity and 
septic systems, although USAID's construction of many houses was close 
to completion. As of March 2006, ONR had not completed the construction 
activities that it had agreed with USAID to complete by December 31, 
2005. 

Construction-Related Challenges Led to Delays in Grenada, Jamaica, and 
Haiti: 

USAID contractors encountered several challenges that slowed the 
agency's implementation and completion of construction projects in all 
three countries. These challenges included shortages of materials, 
USAID's policies regarding land titles and bank guarantees, and 
difficulties working with nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and 
subcontractors. 

* Materials shortages. In Grenada, disruptions following the hurricane, 
as well as the island's relatively remote location, led to shortages of 
construction materials that periodically delayed housing repairs and 
new housing construction. According to USAID, obtaining building 
materials in Grenada became more challenging following Hurricane Emily 
in 2005. In Jamaica, according to USAID, increased duties on imported 
cement, heavy rains that soaked the cement quarries, and a labor strike 
that occurred in the country's only cement factory led to shortages 
that delayed housing repairs and construction. As of March 2006, USAID 
reported that construction in Jamaica continued to be slowed by a 
shortage of cement because the production site that supplies the region 
shut down after producing low-quality cement. 

* Difficulty in establishing land titles. In Grenada, difficulties in 
establishing land title or ownership caused construction delays. A 
USAID housing contractor in Grenada told us that although it originally 
identified 400 to 500 prospective beneficiaries who met selection 
criteria established by the Grenadian government, many of these people 
lacked the land titles or proof of ownership, which USAID required of 
new-housing beneficiaries.[Footnote 12] Because the process of 
verifying ownership was so time consuming, the contractor eventually 
ran advertisements soliciting respondents who met the selection 
criteria and had proof of land ownership. 

* Delays in obtaining bank guarantees. In Haiti, delays encountered by 
contractors seeking bank guarantees contributed to implementation 
delays of some construction projects. USAID staff in Haiti explained 
that the agency requires construction contractors to provide a bank 
guarantee in order to receive advance disbursements to buy materials 
and pay for labor, which USAID officials said is common commercial 
practice. However, Haiti's economic situation made it difficult for 
local contractors to obtain bank guarantees, even when the contractors 
were reputable and had a valid contract with an international 
organization. Because contractors could not begin work without the 
guarantees, some construction activities were delayed. For example, 
according to USAID officials, one highway construction contractor lost 
a month and a half of work time and another contractor lost 2 months 
while obtaining bank guarantees. 

* NGO-related and subcontractor challenges. In Grenada, contractors 
encountered challenges in working with local NGOs and subcontractors. 
The implementing contractor in Grenada relied on NGOs to help identify 
people who met government criteria to receive housing support. However, 
according to the contractor, the NGOs had difficulty quickly selecting 
beneficiaries and, as a result, housing construction was delayed. In 
Jamaica, USAID worked with NGOs to perform housing repairs. According 
to USAID staff, it was difficult to attract NGOs that could fulfill the 
agency's documentation and reporting requirements in order to receive 
grants for the housing repairs. In addition, according to an April 2006 
RIG report, the sole subcontractor hired to build houses performed 
poorly, which also contributed to construction delays. 

Security Problems Disrupted Program Activities in Haiti: 

In Haiti, kidnappings and continued violence in areas affected by the 
tropical storm presented security challenges that disrupted USAID's 
recovery work. According to USAID officials, most security issues that 
delayed program activities occurred in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, 
where frequent kidnappings and violence made the port zone extremely 
dangerous. In addition, attacks on port officials prompted them to 
strike for better security, and sometimes delayed distribution of 
materials. USAID officials told us that the lack of security required 
USAID's contractors to take precautionary measures, such as daily 
monitoring of the security situation, and invest additional resources 
to protect staff and activity sites before undertaking activities. In 
addition, security concerns led to the temporary evacuation of most 
direct-hire USAID staff from Haiti during the summer of 2005. Security 
concerns also limited USAID staff's and contractors' access to project 
sites and ability to provide assistance in certain areas. For example, 
U.S. embassy security policies required special approval for travel to 
Gonaives--one of the areas most affected by the tropical storm and a 
target for USAID assistance--because of continued violence there. 

Lack of Formal Program Guidance, Time Frame, and Staffing Issues 
Contributed to Implementation Problems: 

USAID has not issued recovery and reconstruction program guidance that 
incorporates lessons learned from previous programs; as a result, USAID 
staff were challenged to find information to guide the design and 
implementation of the Hurricane Ivan Program, leading to an ad hoc 
design process and implementation delays. In addition, although it 
applied some lessons learned from its Hurricane Mitch and other past 
programs, USAID did not apply lessons and recommendations regarding 
time frames and staffing, and as a result, USAID staff tasked with 
managing the Caribbean disaster recovery programs faced challenges 
similar to those encountered in prior programs. USAID staff and 
contractors stated that they are currently recording lessons learned 
from the Hurricane Ivan and Tropical Storm Programs. 

Lack of Guidance That Includes Lessons Learned Contributed to Program 
Design and Implementation Challenges: 

Although USAID has managed several large disaster recovery and 
reconstruction programs since 1999,[Footnote 13] USAID has not provided 
guidance specific to these programs that includes lessons learned from 
previous programs. USAID has issued guidance for OFDA emergency 
assistance[Footnote 14] that serves as a reference both for OFDA staff 
and for the private and public organizations that work with OFDA in 
providing emergency assistance. However, this guidance does not address 
the design and implementation of the recovery and reconstruction 
activities that USAID provides following OFDA's emergency response. In 
addition, the agency has not issued guidance that incorporates lessons 
learned from designing and implementing its prior recovery and 
reconstruction programs. For example, for our 2002 report on USAID's 
assistance after Hurricanes Mitch and Georges,[Footnote 15] USAID staff 
and other federal agencies involved in the recovery efforts in Latin 
America provided us with some lessons learned and ideas for improving 
the delivery of future disaster recovery assistance, such as the need 
to establish accountability mechanisms as part of program design, hire 
firms to provide technical oversight, and develop fixed-amount 
reimbursable contracts. Although USAID recorded some lessons learned 
from its Hurricanes Mitch and Georges recovery program, this document, 
unlike its OFDA guidance, has remained in draft form since 2002, has 
not been formally issued or approved by the agency, and may not be 
readily available to all staff.[Footnote 16] 

USAID staff assigned to manage the Hurricane Ivan Program, who did not 
have prior experience in managing recovery and reconstruction 
activities, reported that the lack of guidance and access to lessons 
learned created challenges in planning and managing a wide range of 
activities. According to USAID staff designing the Hurricane Ivan 
Program, the lack of ready access to lessons learned from previous 
recovery and reconstruction programs resulted in an ad hoc approach to 
planning recovery activities. USAID headquarters officials told us that 
no formal agency guidance was available to assist them in planning the 
recovery effort; consequently, they had to search for documents and 
contact staff involved in previous USAID disaster recovery efforts to 
understand how previous programs were implemented. 

Officials at USAID headquarters told us that some program planning 
during disaster recovery situations is by necessity country specific 
and based on the political, economic, and disaster situation in the 
affected country. However, a USAID official stated that operational 
guidance would have facilitated the design process and that ready 
access to lessons learned could have prevented some mistakes. For 
example, if USAID officials had had access to lessons learned regarding 
likely increases in postdisaster demand for construction materials and 
labor, it might have helped them to establish more realistic targets 
for activities to be achieved within a 1-year time frame. With regard 
to construction and repair, important lessons from prior USAID disaster 
recovery programs include the need to account for the difficulties 
involved with hiring and supervising contractors unfamiliar with USAID 
requirements, selecting beneficiaries and verifying land titles. 

USAID Applied Some Lessons from Previous Disaster Programs but Did Not 
Follow Prior Recommendations on Time Frame and Staffing: 

In designing and implementing recovery efforts in Grenada, Jamaica, and 
Haiti, USAID applied some lessons from previous disaster recovery 
programs. However, the agency did not apply lessons and recommendations 
regarding time frames and staffing for recovery programs. As a result, 
USAID staff tasked with managing the Caribbean disaster recovery 
programs faced challenges that could have been avoided if they had had 
access to lessons learned from prior programs; in addition, staffing 
issues remain unaddressed. 

USAID Applied Some Lessons Learned from Previous Programs: 

Despite lacking ready access to lessons learned, USAID headquarters 
officials that designed the recovery programs gained access to draft 
documents that they said allowed them to apply some lessons learned 
from USAID's Hurricane Mitch recovery program. For instance, referring 
to lessons regarding accountability and sustainability, officials 
involved the Regional Inspector General to ensure that appropriate 
accountability mechanisms were in place and incorporated the concept of 
"build back better," such as rebuilding hurricane-affected 
infrastructure to better withstand future natural disasters. According 
to USAID, the team implementing business, agriculture, and training 
activities in Jamaica followed lessons learned from Hurricane Mitch 
regarding hiring contractors with proven track records. USAID staff in 
Haiti also reported that some lessons learned from the Hurricane 
Georges recovery program, which included projects in Haiti, had been 
incorporated into their program's design, including: 

* simplifying the task order approval process for hiring contractors, 

* working with community-based organizations to implement recovery 
activities, and: 

* hiring monitoring firms to assist with technical and financial 
oversight of program activities. 

One-Year Time Frame May Have Limited Impact and Sustainability of Some 
Activities and Conflicted with Prior Lessons Learned: 

In agreeing to a 1-year time frame for the Hurricane Ivan and Tropical 
Storm Programs, USAID may have limited the impact and sustainability of 
some activities and did not take into account lessons learned from the 
Hurricanes Mitch and Georges effort. According to OMB officials 
responsible for foreign affairs programs, the 1-year time frame was 
developed to speed its completion of recovery activities relative to 
previous USAID disaster recovery efforts and, in response to concerns 
expressed by members of Congress that these emergency supplemental 
resources be expended in a timely manner, to assist with recovery 
efforts and not divert funds to regular long term development 
programs.[Footnote 17] However, our recent interviews with USAID staff 
and contractors, as well as previous GAO work, suggests that in 
agreeing to the December 31, 2005, deadline, USAID faced a trade-off in 
trying to complete a broad spectrum of activities within the 1-year 
time frame and ensure that activities supported through these programs 
have the intended impact in helping beneficiaries recover, rebuild, and 
find jobs in the postdisaster environment and can be sustained by host 
government staff after the programs end. 

* In Grenada, USAID provided training in various trades and also paid 
participants a stipend while they attended 6-week courses. However, in 
a later evaluation of this program component, the contractors 
conducting the training reported that participants had commented that 6 
weeks was too short to fully develop some skills, such as those needed 
for construction; however, because the contractor did not assess the 
training until the end of the 1-year time frame, they were unable to 
modify the training design. The contractor reported that a longer 
program time frame, such as 18 months, would have allowed them to 
assess the training's results--for instance, by tracking the number of 
people that found jobs after being trained--and adjust the design to 
increase its impact. The contractors also found that the time frame 
limited their ability to assess the results of training in hotel 
services, because many of the islands' hotels were still closed for 
repair during the year that training was provided. We interviewed 19 
persons who participated in USAID's skills training in Grenada and 
found that fewer than half were employed 3 to 6 months after completing 
it.[Footnote 18] 

* In Haiti, USAID officials said that although they tried to select 
projects that fit the needs of affected areas, the 1-year time frame 
had implications for the sustainability of some program activities. For 
example, the officials explained that their activities included 
hillside stabilization and the development of an early warning system 
to be transferred to the government of Haiti at the program's 
conclusion. However, the USAID officials said that 1 year was not 
enough time to implement and test some activities, and train government 
staff to take them over. USAID officials said that 2 years would have 
been a more reasonable time frame. 

Our prior assessments of the agency's Hurricane Mitch recovery program 
highlighted some of the trade-offs in trying to design activities that 
are sustainable and can be completed within a short time frame. In our 
2002 assessment of USAID's administration of disaster recovery 
assistance after Hurricanes Mitch and Georges,[Footnote 19] we 
reported, based on responses from USAID staff and other agencies 
involved in providing the assistance, that "the December 31, 2001, 
deadline was a major factor in how they planned, designed, and 
implemented their disaster recovery activities, and it also affected 
the extent to which sustainability could be built into the program." 
For example, one agency involved in the Mitch recovery reported that 
the deadline limited project sustainability because it did not allow 
enough time to complete training for local entities. Another agency 
said future projects should have follow-on activities to assess the 
implementation of technical guidance and training provided. USAID 
officials in the Dominican Republic acknowledged that they selected 
some activities because they knew they could complete them by the 
program deadline, despite recognizing that other activities might have 
achieved greater sustainability. 

USAID Did Not Implement Some Prior Staffing Recommendations and 
Encountered Challenges Related to Use of Management Firm: 

USAID did not adopt several prior recommendations that could have 
helped it to more rapidly hire and transfer staff in response to 
recovery and reconstruction needs, and as a result of hiring Wingerts 
Consulting to quickly staff the Hurricane Ivan Program in Grenada and 
Jamaica, the agency encountered additional challenges. In our 2002 
report,[Footnote 20] we observed that USAID did not have the "surge 
capacity" to quickly design and initiate a large-scale infrastructure 
and development program with relatively short-range deadlines (2.5 
years) while providing emergency relief and initial reconstruction 
assistance and managing its regular development program. Based on these 
findings, we recommended that USAID develop and implement procedures 
that would (1) allow it to quickly reassign key personnel in 
postemergency and postcrisis situations and (2) allow missions to hire 
personal services contractors to augment staff on an expedited 
basis.[Footnote 21] In addition, USAID's draft document outlining 
lessons learned from its Hurricane Mitch program indicates that a 
shortage of qualified engineering and technical staff constrained the 
implementation of the program; the document recommends designating an 
official to identify staffing needs quickly and take action to address 
them.[Footnote 22] USAID agreed with the recommendations in our 2002 
report but as of April 2006 had not taken steps to respond to them; it 
also had not implemented the recommendations in its 2002 draft lessons- 
learned report. In addition, we recently reported that USAID had not 
staffed several positions that it considered critical to essential 
technical oversight of its tsunami reconstruction programs in Indonesia 
and Sri Lanka, indicating that staffing these types of programs remains 
a challenge.[Footnote 23] 

USAID decided to hire Wingerts Consulting to manage and oversee the 
program in Grenada, where USAID has no permanent presence, and assist 
with oversight in Jamaica. According to USAID's Mission Director in 
Jamaica and other staff, factors influencing the decision included the 
following: 

* The mission needed assistance in initiating recovery activities and 
personnel with technical skills to oversee disaster recovery 
activities, particularly construction. 

* The agency's process for hiring personal services contractors can 
take up to 6 months, and given the 1-year time frame, staff were needed 
quickly. 

* Hiring a consulting firm provided the agency the flexibility to 
acquire short-term staff with skills needed for specific program 
activities as well as to replace staff when their skills were no longer 
needed. 

According to USAID's Regional Inspector General, USAID staff, and 
contractors, the agency's decision to hire Wingerts Consulting to 
oversee the program in Grenada and Jamaica led to additional 
challenges. 

* In its April 2005 report, USAID's RIG found that Wingerts's roles and 
responsibilities in monitoring the program's implementation had not 
been clearly defined, making it difficult for contractors to implement 
the program, and for USAID staff to manage program activities. USAID 
subsequently refocused Wingerts's responsibilities primarily on 
providing technical oversight and supporting the USAID permanent staff 
responsible for various program components in Grenada and Jamaica. It 
took two months after the Wingerts contract was signed to more clearly 
define each party's roles and responsibilities.[Footnote 24] 

* USAID staff and contractors told us that they were uncertain about 
Wingerts's role in managing the program. In addition, according to 
USAID contractors, the added layer of oversight that Wingerts provided 
sometimes created tension and confusion because contractors were still 
required to report to USAID staff overseeing their program activities 
in Jamaica and Barbados. In its April 2006 follow-up audit, the RIG 
noted that the Wingerts oversight model was problematic in that USAID's 
other contractors were not accustomed to having Wingerts perform 
functions that USAID staff would normally perform, and as a result, 
working relationships were uncomfortable.[Footnote 25] 

Although USAID staff and contractors reported some challenges in 
working with Wingerts, USAID officials in Jamaica noted that the 
mission has benefited by engaging a contracting firm to fulfill 
specific functions, rather than hiring staff. According to USAID, by 
using a contractor to provide a range of management and oversight 
support, the mission created a structure that was highly flexible and 
allowed for quick responses to changing needs throughout the program. 
USAID also noted that in Grenada, where USAID has no presence, the 
contracting firm served an essential function of handling day-to-day 
interaction with the government in addition to managing the $8 million 
allocated for direct government support. While the use of Wingerts 
provided USAID with flexibility, USAID staff and the U.S. embassy in 
Grenada said that temporarily relocating USAID permanent staff or 
personal services contractors to manage recovery efforts in the country 
would have been more efficient than using the management firm. 

USAID Staff and Contractors Are Recording Lessons Learned: 

As part of its internal evaluation of the Hurricane Ivan 
reconstruction, USAID staff and contractors are recording lessons 
learned, including an assessment of the program's economic impact and 
whether the program helped the countries to "build back better" and 
prepare for future disasters. The staff and contractors told us in 
December 2005 that they would incorporate this information into their 
final program summary, which they expected to complete in May 2006. 
Staff at the Haiti mission told us that they were recording lessons 
learned from the Tropical Storm Program disaster mitigation activities 
and that overall lessons learned will be included in the final program 
report. However, we have not yet learned whether USAID headquarters 
intends to incorporate lessons learned from the Caribbean programs into 
guidance that would be available to staff implementing future recovery 
and reconstruction programs. (See app. II for our summary of lessons 
learned reported by U.S. officials and contractors involved in the 
Hurricane Ivan and Tropical Storm Programs as well as for lessons 
culled from our and USAID's reviews of its previous disaster recovery 
programs.) 

Conclusions: 

Disaster recovery and reconstruction assistance is an important 
component of USAID's development assistance portfolio, providing a 
bridge between its emergency relief efforts and its long-term 
development assistance. In responding to the Caribbean disasters, USAID 
provided a wide range of recovery and reconstruction support. However, 
despite having administered several large-scale disaster recovery 
programs in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia since 1999, USAID 
has not issued guidance for recovery and reconstruction programs that 
incorporates lessons learned from its prior efforts, leading to 
challenges in designing and implementing the recovery and 
reconstruction activities discussed in this report. In addition, 
although USAID and GAO have previously documented USAID's difficulties 
in quickly staffing its recovery and reconstruction programs and have 
made recommendations to assist USAID in correcting these problems, 
these issues remain unaddressed. As a result, the agency is likely to 
be unprepared to rapidly recruit and mobilize technically skilled staff 
for its next disaster recovery program. 

Recommendations for Executive Action: 

To better facilitate USAID's ability to design and implement future 
disaster recovery programs and address its previously documented 
recurring staffing challenges, we recommend that the USAID 
Administrator take the following two actions: 

* Develop disaster recovery and reconstruction program guidance that 
incorporates lessons learned from the Hurricane Ivan Recovery and 
Reconstruction Program and Tropical Storm Jeanne Recovery Program as 
well as previous disaster recovery programs. 

* Revise staffing procedures to allow the agency to more quickly 
reassign or hire key personnel, either to augment staff responsible for 
disaster recovery efforts in countries with a USAID mission or to 
manage efforts in countries where USAID does not maintain a permanent 
presence. 

Agency Comments and Our Evaluation: 

We provided a draft of this report to USAID, the Department of State 
and OMB. We received a formal comment letter from USAID (see app. III), 
in which they agreed with our recommendations. USAID and OMB provided 
technical comments that we incorporated into the report, as 
appropriate. The Department of State had no comments. 

USAID agreed with our first recommendation and indicated it has 
established an agency task force for complex emergency and 
stabilization responses to allow it and other U.S. government agencies 
to undertake a structural approach based on past experience to provide 
an integrated and effective response to future disasters. Further, as 
part of its technical comments, USAID indicated that the Jamaica 
Mission has taken steps to document a draft list of lessons learned 
that will be included in the final report at the conclusion of the 
Hurricane Ivan program. USAID said these reports will be shared with 
USAID officials in Washington for developing guidelines for future 
disaster recovery programs and for inclusion in USAID's Center for 
Development and Evaluation databases. 

USAID also agreed with our second recommendation. The agency 
acknowledged that recent large-scale natural disaster and complex 
emergencies, including the Asian tsunami and conflicts in Afghanistan 
and Iraq, have revealed glaring gaps in the U.S. capacity to respond 
effectively, particularly for stabilization and reconstruction 
programs. In technical comments, USAID's Jamaica mission noted that its 
use of a management and oversight firm provided a highly flexible 
structure to respond quickly to changes in staffing needs throughout 
the program; however, USAID further recommended that any adjustment to 
the agency's policy address ongoing urgent needs to change staffing 
under projects with a short time horizon. To respond to staffing 
challenges, USAID has proposed the development of a "civilian surge 
capacity," which, if approved and funded, would give USAID over a 3- 
year time period to develop short-to long-term staff on an as-needed 
basis, focusing on skill sets that USAID has identified as lacking 
sufficient capacity. 

We are sending copies of this report to interested congressional 
committees as well as the Administrator, USAID; Acting Director, OMB; 
and the Secretary of State. We will also make copies available to 
others upon request. In addition, this report will be available at no 
charge on the GAO Web site at [Hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you or your staff have any questions about this report, please 
contact me at (202) 512-3149 or gootnickd@gao.gov. Contact points for 
our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found 
on the last page of this report. GAO staff who made major contributions 
to this report are listed in appendix IV. 

Sincerely yours, 

Signed by: 

David Gootnick: 
Director: 
International Affairs and Trade: 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology: 

We were asked to periodically monitor the delivery of assistance under 
USAID's Hurricane Ivan Recovery and Reconstruction Program (Hurricane 
Ivan Program) and Tropical Storm Jeanne Recovery Program (Tropical 
Storm Program). In this report, we (1) review the recovery and 
reconstruction activities in Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti, including the 
status of activities as of December 31, 2005; (2) identify factors that 
affected USAID's ability to implement and complete the programs within 
the 1-year time frame; and (3) assess USAID's use of guidance and 
application of lessons learned from similar previous programs as well 
as its efforts to draw lessons from the current programs. 

To determine the status of the programs, we initially reviewed the 
supplemental appropriation language passed in 2004 and USAID documents 
that outline special objectives for each country and interviewed 
program officials regarding program goals. We also made three 
monitoring trips to Grenada, two trips to Jamaica, and one trip to 
Haiti.[Footnote 26] The information on foreign law in this report does 
not reflect our independent legal analysis but is based on interviews 
and secondary sources. After our initial monitoring trip to Haiti, our 
ability to travel there was curtailed when, because of security 
concerns, the U.S. Department of State restricted country access to 
emergency personnel only. Therefore, after the initial trip, we 
reviewed monthly reports and held periodic conference calls with USAID 
staff and contractors to discuss the status of the recovery program in 
that country. During our monitoring trips to Grenada and Jamaica, we 
conducted document reviews and held interviews with USAID staff as well 
as contractors to discuss program progress, determine compliance with 
established requirements set by audit entities, and learn how funding 
allocation decisions were made and tracked. We also met with private 
contractors and subcontractors, and host government officials involved 
in the recovery efforts to discuss program implementation and progress. 
In Grenada, we interviewed 19 attendees of the skills training program 
to get a sense for the skills that were taught and the extent to which 
the training provided employment opportunities for the attendees. In 
addition, we conducted field visits to various project sites to observe 
the progress of activities and verify the extent to which objectives 
and timelines were being met. We visited a random selection of 80 
project sites in Jamaica and Grenada, and 9 project sites in Haiti that 
were not randomly selected due to security restrictions and our 
inability to visit following our initial information gathering trip. 
(See table 3.) 

Table 3: Number and Types of Activities at Project Sites GAO Visited in 
Grenada, Jamaica, and Haiti: 

Country: Grenada: Type of activity at project site: Community 
rehabilitation: Housing repairs; 
Number: 8 recipients; 

Country: Grenada: Type of activity at project site: Community 
rehabilitation: New housing construction; 
Number: 11[A] recipients; 

Country: Grenada: Type of activity at project site: Community 
rehabilitation: Community centers; 
Number: 2 projects; 

Country: Grenada: Type of activity at project site: Community 
rehabilitation: Water and sanitation; 
Number: 1 project. 

Country: Grenada: Type of activity at project site: School repairs; 
Number: 10 schools. 

Country: Grenada: Type of activity at project site: Business recovery: 
Agriculture grants; 
Number: 4 recipients; 

Country: Grenada: Type of activity at project site: Business recovery: 
Fishery grants; 
Number: 2 recipients; 

Country: Grenada: Type of activity at project site: Business recovery: 
Small to medium-size business grants; 
Number: 5 recipients; 

Country: Grenada: Type of activity at project site: Business recovery: 
Skills training; 
Number: 4 centers. 

Country: Jamaica: Type of activity at project site: Community 
rehabilitation: Housing repairs; 
Number: 10[B] recipients; 

Country: Jamaica: Type of activity at project site: Community 
rehabilitation: New housing construction; 
Number: 2 sites with total of 186 houses. 

Country: Jamaica: Type of activity at project site: School repairs; 
Number: 7 schools. 

Country: Jamaica: Type of activity at project site: Business recovery: 
Agriculture grants; 
Number: 10[C] recipients; 

Country: Jamaica: Type of activity at project site: Business recovery: 
Fishery grants; 
Number: 1 community; 

Country: Jamaica: Type of activity at project site: Business recovery: 
Craft grants; 
Number: 3 recipients. 

Country: Haiti: Type of activity at project site: Community 
revitalization[D]: School repairs; 
Number: 1 school; 

Country: Haiti: Type of activity at project site: Community 
revitalization[D]: Disaster preparedness training; 
Number: 1 community; 

Country: Haiti: Type of activity at project site: Community 
revitalization[D]: Asset restoration grants; 
Number: 5 recipients; 

Country: Haiti: Type of activity at project site: Community 
revitalization[D]: River-widening project; 
Number: 1 project; 

Country: Haiti: Type of activity at project site: Community 
revitalization[D]: Canal cleanup; 
Number: 1 project. 

Country: Total; 
Number: 89. 

Source: GAO. 

[A] We visited 11 sites in August 2005 and revisited 5 of these sites 
during December 2005 to assess progress. 

[ B] We randomly selected housing repair sites, which then were used by 
USAID to coordinate visits based on their proximity to Kingston. 

[C] Two of these sites were not randomly selected. 

[D] Site visits in Haiti were not randomly selected. 

[End of table] 

We assessed factors affecting the implementation and completion of 
program activities by reviewing USAID monthly reports and interviewing 
USAID staff, contractors, and host government officials overseeing the 
various program activities during our monitoring trips to Grenada and 
Jamaica. For Haiti, during our periodic conference calls, we discussed 
implementation and completion challenges with USAID staff and 
contractors with oversight responsibility for the various program 
components. 

To assess USAID's application of lessons learned from previous disaster 
recovery programs, we reviewed reports from prior USAID recovery 
efforts and interviewed agency officials in Washington, D.C., Grenada, 
Jamaica, and Haiti as well as contractors. We reviewed documentation on 
lessons learned that USAID officials had compiled following the 
Hurricane Mitch recovery program in Central America. We further 
reviewed reports on disaster relief from various international 
organizations, such as the World Bank, that detailed lessons learned 
from other disaster recovery efforts. Two members of our audit team 
also attended a Caribbean Basin conference that highlighted disaster 
preparedness and mitigation strategies, including strategies for 
funding reconstruction, whether building codes should be regionally or 
nationally applied, and how the private sector can contribute to 
effective disaster preparedness and mitigation strategies. Finally, we 
collated lessons learned in a separate appendix (see app. II) based on 
interviews with staff and contractors administering the Hurricane Ivan 
and Tropical Storm Jeanne Programs and lessons documented in previous 
GAO and USAID assessments of disaster recovery programs in Latin 
America, the Caribbean, and Asia. 

To ensure that appropriate internal controls were established to 
account for program funds, we interviewed USAID financial management 
staff in Jamaica and reviewed program documents that described USAID's 
mechanisms for ensuring accountability. We also coordinated with 
USAID's Regional Inspector General to determine the Inspector General's 
involvement with establishing internal controls and monitoring how well 
USAID maintained controls throughout the program. 

For this report, we relied primarily on USAID's data reported to date 
in the agency's monthly reports on expenditures and progress in each 
country. We assessed the reliability of this data by (1) interviewing 
USAID program staff and its contractors to determine how data were 
collected and reported and what quality assurance mechanisms were in 
place, (2) reviewing a sample of USAID's program files as well as its 
contractors' files in Grenada and Jamaica, and (3) collaborating with 
USAID's Regional Inspector General on the reliability of expenditure 
data. During our trip to Grenada in August 2005, we found errors and a 
misrepresentation of data in USAID's monthly reports, which we reported 
to USAID staff and contractors responsible for the collating the data. 
USAID corrected the data errors and made changes to certain indicators 
that we had found to be misleading. Overall, we found that USAID's data 
as corrected were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of addressing 
our reporting objectives. We conducted our work from March 2005 through 
May 2006 in accordance with generally accepted government auditing 
standards. 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: Summary of Lessons Learned from USAID Disaster Recovery 
and Reconstruction Efforts: 

We reviewed USAID's recovery efforts following the 1998 hurricanes in 
Latin America and 2001 earthquakes in El Salvador, as well as its 
ongoing efforts in response to the 2004 tsunami in Asia. Following is a 
compilation of lessons reported by U.S. officials and contractors 
involved in USAID's Hurricane Ivan Recovery and Rehabilitation Program 
and Tropical Storm Jeanne Recovery Program as well as lessons from GAO 
and USAID reviews of previous disaster recovery programs. Although this 
list is by no means exhaustive, it summarizes some common lessons and 
examples of USAID's efforts to address disaster recovery challenges and 
is intended as a tool for future disaster recovery programs. 

Lessons Learned for Program Planning and Implementation: 

* Set appropriate time frames. Disaster recovery program time frames 
should be based on a needs assessment of the activities that best aid 
recovery and should be undertaken in phases, if necessary. In our 2002 
report on USAID's Hurricane Mitch and Georges recovery program, various 
agency officials said the program's time frame influenced how planning, 
design, and implementation of recovery activities affected program 
sustainability. For example, the Dominican Republic mission reported 
that it selected some activities it knew could be completed by the 
expenditure deadline despite recognizing that other activities may have 
achieved greater sustainability, especially those with more cost 
sharing with the host government and other implementing organizations. 
Other agency officials involved in the recovery suggested that future 
efforts include time for follow-on activities, such as training, to 
ensure better sustainability. USAID staff and contractors implementing 
the Caribbean programs' activities discussed in this report stated that 
the 1-year time frame influenced the types of activities they selected 
and may have limited the sustainability of some projects. One 
contractor explained that in a previous program, activities were 
divided into different phases (e.g., immediate recovery activities were 
implemented in less than 1 year, while road construction was given a 
1.5-year time frame and railroad reconstruction was planned for 2 years 
but completed in 3). In the Hurricane Ivan Program, USAID was able to 
identify beneficiaries for business and agriculture recovery grants and 
expend the majority of program funds allocated to these activities 
within a 1-year time frame, while reconstruction of houses in Jamaica 
and Grenada required an extension several months beyond December 31, 
2005. Based on their experience in the Hurricane Mitch and Georges 
recovery program, USAID officials designing and implementing the 
Tropical Storm Program in Haiti said that program staff should not 
attempt to complete activities in an arbitrarily short time frame. 
USAID staff and contractors we interviewed stated that 15 to 18 months 
is a more reasonable time frame for reconstruction activities. 

* Conduct thorough cost assessments. USAID should ensure that initial 
cost estimates are based on specific information about site conditions. 
Due to inadequate estimates in the Caribbean programs regarding the 
cost of labor and materials for reconstruction activities, USAID 
originally targeted an unrealistically high number of activities that 
later had to be reduced. Part of this lesson includes anticipating 
increases in construction materials and labor due to increases in 
demand for construction after a disaster. For example, in Indonesia, 
USAID's initial cost estimates for a road to be rebuilt after the 
tsunami were based on limited information about site conditions. 
Because of the uncertainty about the site conditions, the Army Corps of 
Engineers included a 20 percent contingency in its cost estimate. 
However, actual costs may still exceed this estimate because plans for 
the road have changed. 

* Look beyond restoration of the status quo and aim to improve 
infrastructure and livelihood opportunities. In the planning of 
Hurricanes Mitch and Georges recovery efforts, the U.S. and its 
international partners agreed on an approach that would not simply 
replace what was destroyed, but would "build back better" with a 
lasting impact. This approach was adopted in the Caribbean programs. 
For example, in the rehabilitation of schools, USAID repaired schools 
to their pre-Ivan condition or better in compliance with the building 
codes and hurricane resistance standards. In Haiti, USAID also provided 
household restoration grants as well as created a cash-for-work program 
to help those affected by the storm to rebuild their livelihoods and 
decrease their vulnerability to future floods. 

* Establish a host government agency to coordinate the international 
response to the disaster. USAID worked with the governments of Grenada 
and Jamaica to establish independent coordination entities separate 
from those countries' ministries to facilitate the recovery process and 
streamline working with the government. A central agency to coordinate 
disaster recovery between donors is important for ensuring that 
activities are not duplicated; however, USAID and other donors should 
take into account the time needed to establish these agencies when 
developing implementation schedules and setting program completion time 
frames. For example, USAID reported that the Agency for Reconstruction 
in Development in Grenada, funded by USAID and other donors, did not 
take over coordination responsibilities until March 2005, about 3 
months into USAID's program. In Jamaica, USAID coordinated with the 
Office for National Reconstruction to identify recipients for recovery 
assistance as well as to build new housing communities. The Indonesian 
government established the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency to 
coordinate the international response to the tsunami. The entity has 
produced a master plan for reconstruction that it has used to attempt 
to control and track organizations involved in reconstruction. 

* Channel assistance through organizations and contractors with proven 
track records and a history of working in the affected country. USAID 
officials administering Haiti's Tropical Storm Jeanne Recovery Program 
reported that they selected contractors that had a history of working 
there as a means of strengthening coordination and ensuring 
implementation of program activities. This was particularly critical 
given Haiti's security challenges and USAID's inability to travel to 
many of the project sites regularly. In El Salvador, USAID contracted 
with at least five private voluntary organizations that it had 
previously worked with to implement earthquake recovery projects. 
According to USAID officials, using organizations that have proven to 
be capable and reliable reduces the likelihood of misuse of funds and 
corruption. 

* Involve community-based organizations in program implementation. 
Noting that this was a successful approach in Hurricane Georges, USAID 
officials in Haiti worked with community-based organizations in 
implementing the Tropical Storm Jeanne Recovery Program. For example, 
one contractor worked with local management committees it had worked 
with during a previous program in Gonaives several years before. These 
groups were one of the few functioning civil society organizations in 
Gonaives immediately after the flooding and served as program partners 
and liaisons on community issues, security, and sustainable maintenance 
efforts. Another contractor worked with already existing water user 
groups organized around irrigated parcels in the Plaine des Gonaives 
and Trois Rivieres areas. The use of community-based organizations also 
allowed the contractor to mobilize the local population rapidly to 
execute short-term employment generation activities, such as tertiary 
roads and ravine protection structures. In addition, school 
rehabilitation frequently was organized around parent and teacher 
groups that supported the school in preflood periods. 

* Avoid overlap between host governments and community-based 
organizations to avoid inefficiencies. To avert potential future 
overlap with nongovernmental organizations in Sri Lanka during tsunami 
reconstruction, USAID participated in weekly meetings with the 
government coordinating entity and NGOs, among others, to designate 
responsibility for different geographic areas. 

Lessons Learned for Staffing: 

* Identify staffing needs quickly and designate someone to manage the 
staffing process. USAID officials involved in Hurricane Mitch recovery 
activities drafted lessons learned recommending that, when responding 
to disaster recovery, USAID mission and Washington officials need to 
quickly identify staffing needs and that an appropriate official should 
be charged with tracking staff issues to facilitate the response. For 
example, in our 2002 report of Hurricane Mitch and Georges, we reported 
that the number of USAID direct-hire staff in general, and contracts 
officers in particular, has declined and USAID had difficulty finding 
qualified personnel to manage the large-scale emergency program on an 
expedited basis. In the same report, USAID's Honduran mission reported 
serious constraints due to the absence of a contracts and grants 
officer needed to negotiate and sign agreements and ensure that 
implementation and acquisition mechanisms are in place. The mission in 
the Dominican Republic reported that the majority of staff hired for 
its reconstruction effort had no prior USAID experience and that 
implementation slowed as new staff learned the agency's management 
system. As stated earlier in this report, the lack of experienced staff 
was also a challenge in the Hurricane Ivan program. 

* Create a mechanism to quickly hire staff for recovery and 
reconstruction programs. In addition, a draft document in which 
contractors assessed USAID's Hurricane Mitch program reported that 
lengthy personal service contract hiring practices added to staffing 
bottlenecks, and some USAID staff recommended that waiver authorities 
should be made available to hire staff quickly on a noncompetitive 
basis. In addition, the Honduras Mission stated that USAID needs to do 
a better job of immediately identifying staff with the skills needed 
for reconstruction activities rather than relying on staff within the 
mission or region. In the tsunami program, to establish technical 
oversight, USAID reassigned and hired experienced staff, such as 
engineers, and acquired additional technical expertise through 
interagency agreements but had difficulty filling some positions it 
considered critical to technical oversight. 

Lessons Learned for Recovery Activities: 

Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation: 

* Provide disaster preparedness and mitigation training to communities. 
In Haiti, 222 participants in seven communities were trained in 
disaster preparedness and mitigation, including the designation of 
emergency responders and the development of local action plans focused 
on risk assessment, disaster mitigation, and preparedness. In Jamaica, 
fisherfolk received training in "Safe Seamanship and Environmental 
Management." USAID also developed training to ensure sustainability and 
provide local capacity building through a course on "General Safety and 
Survival at Sea," which was taught to 60 participants from three local 
NGOs, in coordination with the Caribbean Maritime Institute. 
Participants received safety equipment and an emergency response guide 
developed for the fisheries sector, including specific measures to 
reduce vulnerability with regard to small boat safety, search and 
rescue, sinking vessels, fires, bad weather, and survival at sea under 
different distress situations. 

Construction: 

* Ensure quality control of construction and follow building codes 
appropriate to type of disaster sustained. USAID has difficulty 
ensuring that contractors build houses correctly and completely. For 
example, in our review of the El Salvador earthquake program, we 
reported problems such as roof supports that were improperly connected 
to walls, and metal windows and doors that were not functioning 
properly. Following the GAO visit, USAID issued detailed procedures 
that Army Corps of Engineers Officials and contractors were required to 
complete following their work. USAID also conducted additional quality 
control training that contractors, NGOs, and other entities involved in 
implementing the program were required to attend. USAID officials 
stated that the training was useful in reinforcing the principle of 
"building back better" and that, following the training, the quality of 
construction improved. Contractors in the Hurricane Ivan program 
followed local building and hurricane resistance codes, including the 
use of hurricane straps and Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Standards for 
wood and concrete houses. 

* Understand the local land tenure system. In El Salvador, many 
Salvadorans whose houses were destroyed had no legal proof that they 
owned the property on which their house had stood. Housing starts were 
delayed because contractors had to wait weeks for approvals to begin 
construction. The USAID contractor responsible for housing in Grenada 
also encountered challenges due to land title issues. The contractor 
told us that although it originally identified 400 to 500 prospective 
beneficiaries who met selection criteria established by the Grenadian 
government, many of these people lacked the land titles or proof of 
ownership that USAID required of new-housing beneficiaries. Because the 
process of verifying ownership was so time consuming, the contractor 
eventually ran advertisements soliciting respondents who met the 
selection criteria and had proof of land ownership. 

* Establish memorandums of understanding or formal agreements if 
reconstruction efforts are shared with the host government. In Haiti, 
USAID officials established a memorandum of understanding with the 
government for road and bridge construction activities. Conversely, in 
Jamaica, USAID did not establish a memorandum of understanding with the 
government in its coordination for new-housing construction. According 
to USAID, when the Jamaican government did not fulfill its obligation 
to install electricity and septic systems and to provide other 
infrastructure for the housing communities, USAID had to grant 
extensions to complete activities that were impacted by the delays and, 
as a result, delayed the delivery of new housing to beneficiaries. 

* Address warranties and liabilities for construction projects before 
building. Warranty and liability responsibilities should be detailed in 
the contract agreements and determined prior to construction. In the 
Hurricane Ivan Program, USAID did not determine who would fulfill 
warranty and defects liability responsibility early on in the program, 
and such issues were still being resolved, in some cases, after 
construction of schools and other buildings were already completed and 
the contractor considered the project closed. 

Nonconstruction: 

* Coordinate with local industry boards and organizations to identify 
recipients and community leaders. USAID contractors in Grenada worked 
to improve tourism services after Hurricane Ivan left 50 percent of the 
persons previously working in this sector unemployed and another 40 
percent underemployed. The contractor formed partnerships with several 
local tourism associations, including hotel, airport, taxi, and small- 
business organizations. The contractors developed skills training 
courses to improve hospitality and tourist services. For example, after 
some participants were trained in craft making, the contractors 
organized a "Buy Grenada" fair to showcase the participants' work. In 
addition, the contractors partnered with several community-based 
organizations to deliver training in small business management, food 
vending, ecotourism, and professional tour guiding. 

* Coordinate with government for education or skills training. USAID's 
skills training program in Grenada provided needed income support and 
skills development, but was not designed in consultation with the 
government's Ministry of Education. Moreover, the government does not 
recognize the training certificates issued to participants. Also, 
contractors and participants recognized that the 6-week training period 
was not long enough to develop certain skills, such as construction, 
and that it would have made more sense to develop fewer, but longer, 
courses to adequately train participants. 

Lessons Learned for Ensuring Accountability: 

* Establish accountability mechanisms. Concerns over public and private 
corruption due to the wide dispersion of activities following Hurricane 
Mitch influenced USAID to take extra precautions to safeguard program 
funds. USAID's Regional Inspector General (RIG) and GAO monitored the 
Hurricane Mitch and El Salvador earthquake reconstruction programs and 
briefed USAID staff as well as Congress on a regular basis on key 
issues that USAID needed to correct. In the Caribbean program, USAID 
involved RIG officials early in the design to ensure proper 
accountability mechanisms were established and audits were performed 
early in the program. 

* Hire third-party monitoring firms. USAID officials in Haiti 
contracted with an engineering firm to monitor construction activities 
and with a financial management firm to validate performance reports, 
report on the quality of activities executed by the contractor, and 
identify problem areas, and ensure flexibility in implementation. USAID 
officials reported that the oversight and recommendations from the two 
firms have proven to be invaluable. Specifically, the engineering firm 
was instrumental in providing several good recommendations on urgent 
needs that had not been identified in the damage survey; additionally, 
the firm provided early warning on a number of occasions where work 
needed immediate correction and collaborated closely with the 
implementing firms and quickly gained their confidence for sound 
recommendations. It served as a capable arbiter on several disputes 
between implementers and their subcontractors. Both the engineering and 
financial firms served a critical function at a time when USAID direct 
hires were unable to travel freely in Haiti to monitor progress due to 
poor security. In its El Salvador earthquake recovery program, USAID 
required that a private accounting firm conduct a concurrent audit of a 
USAID-funded health clinic being implemented by AmeriCares, a U.S.- 
based private voluntary organization that provides medical supplies 
overseas. This was done because AmeriCares had no experience 
implementing a USAID-funded program and was working through a 
Salvadoran nongovernmental organization to carry out the construction. 

In Grenada and Jamaica, USAID also contracted engineering expertise to 
monitor the completion and quality of implementing contractors' 
construction activities. The USAID Mission in Jamaica obtained these 
services by augmenting the engineering staff of Wingerts Consulting. 
The work of the engineers engaged through Wingerts was similar to that 
typically performed by a USAID staff engineer, including monitoring and 
reviewing the processes utilized by the implementing contractor to 
assure reasonable costs, quality control, and delivery of a final 
product that is consistent with the expected results specified in the 
contract. According to USAID, the Wingerts staff served as an extension 
of the mission, given that the mission needed to move swiftly to 
implement construction and renovation activities and the mission did 
not have internal staff with sufficient expertise to effectively 
implement the activities under a short time frame. The engineers 
engaged by the Jamaica Mission through Wingerts worked collaboratively 
with USAID's technical staff and the implementing contractors to 
provide technical approval of contract award processes and 
certifications and to perform site visits and environmental monitoring 
during execution of construction contracts and grants. 

Lessons Learned for Monitoring and Evaluation: 

* Conduct monthly progress reviews and provide interim reports. In its 
April 2005 report, the Regional Inspector General recommended that 
USAID staff responsible for the Hurricane Ivan Program monitor the 
program by maintaining a spreadsheet of target due dates for each 
activity and verify that all activities are completed on time. USAID 
provided monthly reports of its Caribbean recovery efforts that 
summarized the progress of program activities, challenges in 
implementing and completing activities, and the programs' expenditures 
to date. According to USAID officials responsible for the Hurricane 
Ivan Program, the contractor hired to assist with oversight, Wingerts 
Consulting, played a role in ensuring regular and timely progress 
reporting and program analysis, including capturing cross-country and 
cross-program implementation issues, and providing program-level 
financial analyses. USAID also reported that Wingerts conducted various 
site visits and served as a liaison between USAID's technical staff and 
implementing contractors to better assess the status of activities "on 
the ground" and report back to the mission, the bureau, and other 
stakeholders. USAID officials acknowledged that these reports might 
have been prepared by mission staff rather than Wingerts if USAID had a 
mission in Grenada or had sufficient staff in Jamaica to compile and 
produce the reports. 

[End of section] 

Appendix III: Comments from the U.S. Agency for International 
Development: 

USAID: 
From The American People: 

May 18, 2006: 

Jacquelyn L. Williams-Bridgers: 
Managing Director: 
International Affairs and Trade: 
U.S. Government Accountability Office: 
441 G Street, N.W. 
Washington, D.C. 20548: 

Dear Ms. Williams-Bridgers: 

I am pleased to provide the U.S. Agency for International Development's 
(USAID's) formal response on the draft GAO report entitled "USAID 
Completed Many Caribbean Disaster Recovery Activities, but Several 
Challenges Hampered Efforts (GAO-06-645)." USAID acknowledges the 
validity of the GAO report and its recommendations. 

Recommendation: Develop disaster recovery and reconstruction program 
guidance that incorporates lessons learned from the Hurricane Ivan 
Recovery and Reconstruction Program and Tropical Storm Jeanne Recovery 
Program as well as previous disaster recovery programs. 

USAID Response: In light of its experience, the Agency has developed a 
crisis management model that utilizes task forces composed of USAID and 
other key USG department and agency personnel to provide an effective, 
integrated platform for complex emergency and stabilization responses. 
The task force, to be activated by the Administrator and with the 
Deputy Administrator serving as Chair, is responsible for the 
following: 

a. Serve as a coordination point for information sharing and joint 
planning among Agency bureaus; 

b. Coordinate externally with State Department regional bureau and 
other USG counterparts, and respond to requests from the National 
Security Council and other USG agencies; 

c. Identify and track specific policy and operational roadblocks within 
the Agency and the USG and work to remove them expeditiously; d. 
Develop appropriate waiver authority with respect to proposed Agency 
work in response to the complex emergency; 

e. Develop bilateral country planning, as appropriate, and program 
design for relief and reconstruction efforts; 

f. Determine workforce planning and staffing for Agency activities in 
response to the complex emergency; 

g. Have responsibility for review and approval of resource allocations 
for Agency activities; 

h. Develop appropriate internal technical support for the task force; 
and i. Prepare, as appropriate, Congressional testimony and responses 
to Congressional inquiries. 

The Agency has taken lessons learned and published them on the Agency 
intranet site for Agency employees. 

Recommendation: Revise staffing procedures to allow the Agency to more 
quickly reassign or hire key personnel, either to augment staff 
responsible for disaster recovery efforts in countries with a USAID 
mission or to manage efforts in countries where USAID does not maintain 
a permanent presence. 

USAID Response: Recent large scale natural disasters and complex 
emergencies (e.g., conflict), including the Asia Tsunami, Afghanistan, 
and Iraq, have revealed glaring gaps in U.S. capacity to respond 
effectively, particularly for stabilization and reconstruction 
programs. USAID acknowledges that it has, at times, limited capacity to 
respond to certain crises. We also lack sufficient quantities of 
particular skill sets, such as engineers. For nearly a dozen years the 
Agency did not have a budget that allowed us to replace attrition. As a 
consequence the Agency has been reduced in size by over 40%. Although 
we have had limited funding to hire additional staff over the past two 
years, we have been able to build our capacity in critical skill sets 
by hiring additional contracting officers and health officers. However, 
these limited numbers are not enough to meet the full range of 
competencies and numbers of staff we require, leading to staffing 
shortfalls in USAID missions throughout the world. Therefore, USAID has 
proposed the development of a "civilian surge capacity" which, if 
approved and funded, would give USAID over a three-year time period the 
ability to grow short-to-long-term staff on an as needed basis. The 
surge capacity program would not add permanent staff, but would augment 
current staff levels on a temporary basis. The USAID surge package 
focuses on particular skill sets where we have identified a lack of 
sufficient capacity. 

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the GAO draft report and 
for the courtesies extended by your staff in the conduct of this 
review. 

Sincerely, 

Signed by: 

Cynthia Pruett: 
Acting Chief Financial Officer: 

[End of section] 

Appendix IV: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

David Gootnick, (202) 512-3149 or gootnickd@gao.gov: 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the contact named above, Phillip Herr (Assistant 
Director), Francisco Enriquez, Adrienne Spahr, Reid Lowe, Shana 
Wallace, and Mark Dowling made key contributions to this report. 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

Foreign Assistance: USAID Has Begun Tsunami Reconstruction in Indonesia 
and Sri Lanka, but Key Projects May Exceed Initial Cost and Schedule 
Estimates. GAO-06-488. Washington, D.C.: April 14, 2006. 

Foreign Assistance: Strategic Workforce Planning Can Help USAID Address 
Current and Future Challenges. GAO-03-946. Washington, D.C., August 22, 
2003. 

Foreign Assistance: USAID's Earthquake Recovery Program in El Salvador 
Has Made Progress, but Key Activities Are behind Schedule. GAO-03-656. 
Washington, D.C.: May 15, 2003. 

Foreign Assistance: Disaster Recovery Program Addressed Intended 
Purposes, but USAID Needs Greater Flexibility to Improve Its Response 
Capability. GAO-02-787. Washington, D.C.: July 24, 2002. 

Foreign Assistance: AID Strategic Direction and Continued Management 
Improvements Needed. GAO/NSIAD-93-106. Washington: D.C.: June 11, 1993. 

FOOTNOTES 

[1] Other donors' pledges for recovery assistance amounted to about 
$177 million in Grenada and about $23 million in Jamaica. In Haiti, 
pledges amounted to about $16 million. 

[2] Emergency Hurricane Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2005, Pub. L. 
108-324, Div. B, Chapter 5 (Oct. 13, 2004). 

[3] USAID allocated most of the appropriated funds to Grenada, Jamaica, 
and Haiti, which sustained the heaviest damage in the storms; this 
report focuses on the agency's work in these countries. 

[4] For example, see GAO, Foreign Assistance: Disaster Recovery Program 
Addressed Intended Purposes, but USAID Needs Greater Flexibility to 
Improve Its Response Capability, GAO-02-787 (Washington, D.C.: July 24, 
2002); and Foreign Assistance: USAID's Earthquake Recovery Program in 
El Salvador Has Made Progress, but Key Activities Are Behind Schedule, 
GAO-03-656 (Washington, D.C.: May 15, 2003). See Related GAO Products. 

[5] After our initial trip to Haiti in March-April 2005, the Department 
of State restricted access to emergency personnel because of security 
concerns. 

[6] The extensions that USAID granted to contractors in Grenada, 
Jamaica, and Haiti entailed no additional cost to the agency. 

[7] USAID also allocated about $5.6 million to OFDA as reimbursement 
for relief efforts and $2 million to the Bahamas, Tobago, and the 
Caribbean Community islands, which sustained some damage from Hurricane 
Ivan. 

[8] USAID defines its workforce as comprising individuals with whom it 
has an employer-employee relationship. The Federal Acquisition 
Regulations define a personal services contract as one that makes the 
contractor appear as a government employee by the nature of the 
relationship that is established. USAID is authorized by section 
636(a)(3) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, to 
contract with individuals for personal services abroad. USAID's 
personal services contractors may be U.S. citizens, host country 
nationals, or third country nationals. 

[9] USAID, Office of the Inspector General, Audit of USAID/Jamaica's 
Hurricane Recovery and Rehabilitation Activities, Audit Report No. 1- 
532-06-004-P (San Salvador, El Salvador, April 2006). 

[10] USAID reported that the extensions in all three countries imposed 
no additional program costs. 

[11] In responding to a draft of this report in May 2006, USAID 
commented that, in response to issues raised by GAO and USAID's RIG, 
the Jamaica Mission was in the process of developing a memorandum of 
understanding for negotiation and signature with the government of 
Jamaica's Office of National Reconstruction. 

[12] According to USAID officials, agency policy does not prohibit 
beneficiaries without land titles from receiving recovery assistance; 
however, USAID staff managing the Caribbean programs determined that to 
avoid land disputes, land titles were necessary for beneficiaries of 
new-housing construction. 

[13] In addition to administering the $100 million that Congress 
appropriated for Caribbean disaster recovery in 2004, USAID 
administered about $525 million for disaster recovery assistance 
following Hurricanes Mitch and Georges in 1999 and $159 million for 
recovery assistance in El Salvador following the 2001 earthquakes. 
USAID's efforts to assist with reconstruction in Asia following the 
2004 tsunami, which are ongoing, received $908 million in funding. 

[14] USAID, Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, Bureau for 
Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, Disaster Reduction: A 
Practitioner's Guide (Washington, D.C., November 2002). 

[15] GAO-02-787. 

[16] USAID, Lessons Learned from Planning and Implementation of the 
Hurricane Mitch Supplemental Reconstruction Program (draft report) 
(Washington, D.C., June 27, 2000). 

[17] OMB staff indicated that they encourage USAID to consult with OMB 
on any difficulties the 1-year time frame may have posed on program 
implementation, but USAID did not seek additional consultation. 

[18] This was partially owing to limited employment opportunities for 
women who took construction courses but had difficulty obtaining jobs 
in this field. 

[19] USAID had agreed to expend all of the appropriated funds by 
December 31, 2001, about 30 months from enactment of the supplemental 
appropriation. See GAO-02-787. 

[20] GAO-02-787. 

[21] GAO-02-787. 

[22] Lessons Learned from Planning and Implementation of the Hurricane 
Mitch Supplemental Reconstruction Program. 

[23] GAO, Foreign Assistance: USAID Has Begun Tsunami Reconstruction in 
Indonesia and Sri Lanka, but Key Projects May Exceed Initial Cost and 
Schedule Estimates, GAO-06-488 (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 14, 2006). 

[24] USAID, Office of the Inspector General, Audit of USAID/Jamaica's 
Hurricane Recovery and Rehabilitation Activities, Audit Report No. 1- 
532-05-008-P (San Salvador, El Salvador, April 2005). 

[25] USAID, Office of the Inspector General, Audit of USAID/Jamaica's 
Hurricane Recovery and Rehabilitation Activities, Audit Report No. 1- 
532-06-004-P (San Salvador, El Salvador, April 2006). 

[26] GAO did not visit the Caribbean islands of Bahamas, Tobago, and 
Caribbean Community islands, which received a total of $2 million for 
small-scale hurricane recovery efforts. 

GAO's Mission: 

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of 
Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional 
responsibilities and to help improve the performance and accountability 
of the federal government for the American people. GAO examines the use 
of public funds; evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides 
analyses, recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make 
informed oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO's commitment to 
good government is reflected in its core values of accountability, 
integrity, and reliability. 

Obtaining Copies of GAO Reports and Testimony: 

The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no 
cost is through the Internet. GAO's Web site ( www.gao.gov ) contains 
abstracts and full-text files of current reports and testimony and an 
expanding archive of older products. The Web site features a search 
engine to help you locate documents using key words and phrases. You 
can print these documents in their entirety, including charts and other 
graphics. 

Each day, GAO issues a list of newly released reports, testimony, and 
correspondence. GAO posts this list, known as "Today's Reports," on its 
Web site daily. The list contains links to the full-text document 
files. To have GAO e-mail this list to you every afternoon, go to 
www.gao.gov and select "Subscribe to e-mail alerts" under the "Order 
GAO Products" heading. 

Order by Mail or Phone: 

The first copy of each printed report is free. Additional copies are $2 
each. A check or money order should be made out to the Superintendent 
of Documents. GAO also accepts VISA and Mastercard. Orders for 100 or 
more copies mailed to a single address are discounted 25 percent. 
Orders should be sent to: 

U.S. Government Accountability Office 

441 G Street NW, Room LM 

Washington, D.C. 20548: 

To order by Phone: 

Voice: (202) 512-6000: 

TDD: (202) 512-2537: 

Fax: (202) 512-6061: 

To Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in Federal Programs: 

Contact: 

Web site: www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm 

E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov 

Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470: 

Public Affairs: 

Jeff Nelligan, managing director, 

NelliganJ@gao.gov 

(202) 512-4800 

U.S. Government Accountability Office, 

441 G Street NW, Room 7149 

Washington, D.C. 20548: