Inter-American Foundation:

Alternative to Traditional Foreign Assistance

ID-82-16: Published: Jul 13, 1982. Publicly Released: Jul 13, 1982.

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In 1969, Congress created the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) as an experimental program to provide new direction and emphasis for U.S. aid to Latin America. IAF assistance is characterized by: (1) independence from U.S. and host governments' short-term foreign policy objectives; (2) responsiveness to the initiatives of Latin Americans; and (3) nonintervention in the affairs of groups supported. In the spirit of the present administration's scrutinization of foreign assistance programs, GAO undertook an extensive review of IAF.

IAF monitoring policy consists primarily of visits by IAF representatives to grantees of active projects at least once a year. GAO found that: (1) IAF staff members engage in many activities in relatively short periods of time during country visits; (2) most grantees were visited to some extent by IAF, but visits for purposes of monitoring appeared to follow no discernible pattern to ensure full, timely coverage of projects; and (3) reports required from grantees were often delinquent. GAO believes that monitoring activities could be more effective and supportive of grantee efforts if visits were more timely and if IAF played a more active, constructive role in helping grantees facing bottlenecks to identify possible options and sources of help. IAF, its grantees, and organizations supporting development efforts could benefit from more active coordination and dissemination efforts by IAF.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The President of IAF should direct the staff to: (1) require that the grantees develop specific objectives which the staff believes are attainable; and (2) increase attention to the use of grant funds at the project level to verify application of funds in accordance with agreed terms.

    Agency Affected: Inter-American Foundation

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The President of IAF should clearly define a monitoring policy which calls for the staff representatives to: (1) carefully plan monitoring activities to provide coverage of all active grants to better ensure timely identification of problems causing delays or cases of mismanaged funds; (2) play an active, constructive role assisting grantees faced with problems hindering project progress to identify possible options or sources of help; and (3) regularly check, during country visits, on grantees who are overdue in fulfilling reporting requirements.

    Agency Affected: Inter-American Foundation

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The President of IAF should: (1) establish explicit policy guidelines and operating procedures for an active coordination program, setting forth the responsibilities expected at each staff level; and (2) establish a systematic approach to information dissemination so that valuable experiences are effectively communicated within IAF and to interested agencies, organizations, and individuals.

    Agency Affected: Inter-American Foundation

 

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