Former Soviet Union:

U.S. Rule of Law Assistance Has Had Limited Impact

GAO-01-354: Published: Apr 17, 2001. Publicly Released: May 17, 2001.

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For fiscal years 1992 through 2000, the U.S. government provided assistance to help the 12 newly independent states of the former Soviet Union develop the sustainable institutions, traditions, and legal foundations that ensure a strong rule of law. This report (1) assesses the extent to which the program has had an impact on the development of the rule of law and whether the program results are sustainable and (2) analyzes the factors that may have affected the program's impact and sustainability. GAO found that the U.S. government's rule of law assistance program has had limited impact so far, and results may not be sustainable in many cases. The impact and sustainability of the U.S. rule of law assistance programs have been constrained by several factors, including limited political consensus on reforms, a shortage of domestic resources for many of the more expensive innovations, and weaknesses in the design and management of assistance programs by U.S. agencies.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In our April 2001 report, Former Soviet Union: US Rule of Law Assistance Has Had Limited Impact, one of our recommendations was that State, Justice, and Treasury review the current pipeline of projects and develop a plan for ensuring that all projects met key development criteria, and that all unspent funds are reprogrammed as necessary. Our report noted that unless these funds are reprogrammed for other purposes or the projects redesigned to reflect the program reforms that State and Justice are putting into place, their results may have limited impact and sustainability. The State Department took the lead in resolving the issue regarding the $33 million in unspent assistance funds.

    Recommendation: To improve the likelihood that project funds currently budgeted but not yet spent achieve sustainable results, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of the Treasury should jointly review the pipeline of projects and develop a plan for ensuring that all projects meet the above criteria, including reprogramming of unspent assistance funds, as necessary.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In our April 2001 report, Former Soviet Union: US Rule of Law Assistance Has Had Limited Impact, one of our recommendations was that State, Justice, and Treasury review the current pipeline of projects and develop a plan for ensuring that all projects met key development criteria, and that all unspent funds are reprogrammed as necessary. Our report noted that unless these funds are reprogrammed for other purposes or the projects redesigned to reflect the program reforms that State and Justice are putting into place, their results may have limited impact and sustainability. The State Department took the lead in resolving the issue regarding the $33 million in unspent assistance funds.

    Recommendation: To improve the likelihood that project funds currently budgeted but not yet spent achieve sustainable results, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of the Treasury should jointly review the pipeline of projects and develop a plan for ensuring that all projects meet the above criteria, including reprogramming of unspent assistance funds, as necessary.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: See the response for the State Department. State takes the lead in delivering rule of law assistance programs in foreign countries.

    Recommendation: To help improve the impact and sustainability of the U.S. rule of law assistance program in the new independent states of the former Soviet Union, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Administrator, Agency for International Development, who together control almost all of the program's funding, should require that each new project funded under this program be designed with (1) specific strategies for achieving defined long-term outcomes that are sustainable beyond U.S. funding and (2) a provision for monitoring and evaluating the project results, using verifiable outcome indicators and measures, to determine whether the desired outcomes have been achieved and are likely to be sustainable.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: See the response for the State Department. State takes the lead in delivering rule of law assistance programs in foreign countries.

    Recommendation: To help improve the impact and sustainability of the U.S. rule of law assistance program in the new independent states of the former Soviet Union, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Administrator, Agency for International Development, who together control almost all of the program's funding, should require that each new project funded under this program be designed with (1) specific strategies for achieving defined long-term outcomes that are sustainable beyond U.S. funding and (2) a provision for monitoring and evaluating the project results, using verifiable outcome indicators and measures, to determine whether the desired outcomes have been achieved and are likely to be sustainable.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State has announced a new strategy for implementing rule of law assistance programs in the New Independent States (NIS). Under this new approach, each chief of mission will be asked to play a more active role in identifying worthwhile projects, proposing timelines, and securing host government commitment to cooperate on the project, an important component in ensuring sustainability. As part of this new process, U.S. missions in the NIS will negotiate Letters of Agreement(LOA) with the governments in the NIS region to receive assistance in FY 2001 and beyond. The LOA will clearly describe program goals and measures that will be used to evaluate the success of the programs. Additionally, State has expanded staff travel to the region to conduct, informal, internal evaluations to see how the assistance is used by the host government and to assess whether desired reforms are being carried out.

    Recommendation: To help improve the impact and sustainability of the U.S. rule of law assistance program in the new independent states of the former Soviet Union, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Administrator, Agency for International Development, who together control almost all of the program's funding, should require that each new project funded under this program be designed with (1) specific strategies for achieving defined long-term outcomes that are sustainable beyond U.S. funding and (2) a provision for monitoring and evaluating the project results, using verifiable outcome indicators and measures, to determine whether the desired outcomes have been achieved and are likely to be sustainable.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On September 13, 2001, USAID indicated that the difficulties identified in the report with regard to sustainability reflect primarily the inherent problems in building sustainable institutions and processes under the conditions prevailing in the region rather than the lack of an appreciation by programmers of the need to address that issue. Thus, USAID does not see a need to issue additional guidance in these areas. However, the agency did agree that additional refinements are required in formulating appropriate indicators and measures of progress at the individual activity level and are currently taking measures to make improvements in this area.

    Recommendation: To help improve the impact and sustainability of the U.S. rule of law assistance program in the new independent states of the former Soviet Union, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Administrator, Agency for International Development, who together control almost all of the program's funding, should require that each new project funded under this program be designed with (1) specific strategies for achieving defined long-term outcomes that are sustainable beyond U.S. funding and (2) a provision for monitoring and evaluating the project results, using verifiable outcome indicators and measures, to determine whether the desired outcomes have been achieved and are likely to be sustainable.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In our April 2001 report, Former Soviet Union: US Rule of Law Assistance Has Had Limited Impact, one of our recommendations was that State, Justice, and Treasury review the current pipeline of projects and develop a plan for ensuring that all projects met key development criteria, and that all unspent funds are reprogrammed as necessary. Our report noted that unless these funds are reprogrammed for other purposes or the projects redesigned to reflect the program reforms that State and Justice are putting into place, their results may have limited impact and sustainability. The State Department took the lead in resolving the issue regarding the $33 million in unspent assistance funds.

    Recommendation: To improve the likelihood that project funds currently budgeted but not yet spent achieve sustainable results, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of the Treasury should jointly review the pipeline of projects and develop a plan for ensuring that all projects meet the above criteria, including reprogramming of unspent assistance funds, as necessary.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

 

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