Changes Needed To Forge an Effective Relationship Between AID and Voluntary Agencies

ID-82-25: Published: May 27, 1982. Publicly Released: May 27, 1982.

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Congress has repeatedly expressed concern over the Agency for International Development's (AID) implementation of congressional policy to expand cooperation with Private and Voluntary Organizations (PVO). GAO undertook a review of the role of PVO in the development of international assistance programs, focusing on: (1) the function and effectiveness of PVO; (2) what the proper structure of the relations between PVO and AID should be; and (3) how much emphasis should be placed on PVO.

PVO strategy emphasizes the strengthening of local organizations, such as church, private, and government institutions operating at the village or regional level. PVO are distinctive from AID in the level and scale on which they operate; that is, they undertake small projects at the local level while AID generally works through national or regional governments on considerably larger projects. The dual approach of AID funding to PVO programs consists primarily of grants from the overseas missions responsible for administering the AID programs in individual developing countries and grants from the Washington-based bureau responsible for coordinating relations with PVO. However, procedures for mission funding of PVO programs should be simplified, and criteria for awarding Washington-funded grants should be defined. Further, information on grant awards and performance on grants needs to be disseminated to program managers. GAO believes that, for PVO to gain the freedom to focus on the small, locally based projects of developing areas, without an undermining influence from the broader goals of AID, efforts should be made to grant them a greater independence from AID supervision.

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 Administrator, AID, should clarify the objectives behind support to PVO and the role of U.S. and indigenous PVO in meeting these objectives.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: AID has not assessed the committee's effectiveness and has no plans to do so. However, it has taken actions aimed at improving committee effectiveness, such as expanding committee membership, restructuring subcommittees to allow for more substantive work, and strengthening coordination with AID.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should assess, in cooperation with PVO, the effectiveness of the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid prior to fiscal year 1984.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  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 Administrator, AID, should improve the information that missions receive about Bureau for Food for Peace and Voluntary Assistance grants, so that the missions can be better prepared to answer inquiries about such grants.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  4. 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 Administrator, AID, should define specific criteria for determining PVO track records and limit matching grants to PVO with demonstrated development programs.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  5. 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 Administrator, AID, should increase the use of co-financing as a method of mission funding for PVO projects.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  6. 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 Administrator, AID, should direct AID missions to formally consult with knowledgeable PVO officials in-country about development needs and local conditions in preparation of the country development strategy statement.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  7. 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 Administrator, AID, should direct that Bureau for Food for Peace and Voluntary Assistance information and mission experience be used to evaluate PVO implementation skills during the project approval process.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  8. 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 Administrator, AID, should give priority to PVO programs in which the PVO matches AID contributions.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

 

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