Justice and Law Enforcement:

USIA Has Taken Action To Improve the Management of the Private Sector Program

NSIAD-84-59: Published: Apr 10, 1984. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 1984.

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Pursuant to congressional requests, GAO reviewed the United States Information Agency's (USIA) management of grants to private sector nonprofit organizations. GAO compared selection criteria and administrative processes used for the fiscal year 1982 private sector program with those used in previous years.

The private sector program has been the focal point of USIA efforts to involve private nonprofit organizations in exchange-of-persons programs. In 1982, USIA awarded $7.5 million to 67 organizations under the program. GAO found that the average size and the number of large grants to new organizations were significantly higher than in the past. However, the 1982 program expanded the participation of organizations with new ideas or programs without developing specific selection criteria. Concerns have been raised over the manner of selection and the nature of some of the projects selected for grants. Reasons for these concerns included: (1) unclear program guidance; (2) a limited review process for grant selection; (3) lack of continuity and experience within the program staff; and (4) a perception of politicization within the program. GAO did not draw any conclusions regarding politicization of the program, but noted that there is a strong perception of politicization among program officials and that USIA management must deal with the problem. USIA has attempted to improve program management by: (1) restructuring the program; (2) establishing new guidelines for grant awards; and (3) improving program supervision. GAO believes that these steps should give USIA a better basis for administering the program.

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