Need To Strengthen Control Over Incoming United States AID Cargoes In Vietnam

B-159451: Published: May 15, 1968. Publicly Released: May 15, 1968.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the effectiveness of the security and accountability controls over the hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of economic assistance program commodities arriving in Vietnam yearly, focusing on the: (1) extent of commodity losses resulting from diversions or other causes; (2) status of the backlog of commodities stored in and around the various ports in Vietnam; and (3) availability and reliability of management information on the status of commodities in the pipeline and commodity arrivals in country.

GAO noted that: (1) a need for both the Agency for International Development (AID) and the Army to strengthen accountability and security control over the hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of economic assistance program commodities entering Vietnam--$504.9 million was expended in fiscal year 1967 for items such as food, clothing, equipment, and medical supplies; (2) accountability over the receipt, storage, and movement of these goods was not effective; (3) security efforts, while increasing, seemed insufficient; (4) there is no reliable measure of the cost, quantity, and condition of such commodities in and around Vietnamese ports or of the extent, and consequently the causes, of losses due to theft, diversion, and spoilage; (5) while it is possible that most of these commodities reach their intended destination, existing management controls do not reasonably ensure this; (6) in large part GAO attributed the conditions it noted to the fragmentation of responsibility among responsible agencies in Vietnam and to the essentially advisory role played by United States personnel; (7) in view of the unique circumstances in Vietnam, GAO cannot reasonably expect the same degree of control over commodities that might be found within the United States; (8) GAO believes, however, that there is room for improvement in an effort to achieve the best control possible under the circumstances.

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