The Peace Corps Failed to Properly Supervise Missing Volunteer and Lost Track of Him

GAO-01-970R: Published: Jul 20, 2001. Publicly Released: Jul 20, 2001.

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Donald G. Fulwider
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Walter J. Poirier, a Peace Corps volunteer, was reportedly last seen in La Paz, Bolivia in February 2001. This report reviews (1) whether the Peace Corps failed to properly supervise Mr. Poirier's activities and (2) the actions taken by the Peace Corps and the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia when they learned that Mr. Poirier was missing. GAO found that Mr. Poirier failed to follow Peace Corps location and notification procedures. Although the Peace Corps Associate Director responsible for Mr. Poirier while he was in Bolivia knew that Mr. Poirier was not following these procedures, he took no steps to correct the situation and, as a result, lost track of Mr. Poirier. Furthermore, the Associate Director's failure to adequately monitor Mr. Poirier contributed to the U.S. Embassy's difficulties in locating him. Once it was determined that Mr. Poirier was missing, the U.S. Embassy, the Peace Corps, the Bolivian National Police, and fire and rescue teams in La Paz and throughout Bolivia conducted an extensive search. So far, Mr. Poirier has not been found.

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