Foreign Assistance:

AID's Population Program

NSIAD-90-112: Published: May 1, 1990. Publicly Released: May 17, 1990.

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Harold J. Johnson, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Agency for International Development's (AID) Population Program, focusing on: (1) program policy, goals, and strategy; (2) program resources and management; and (3) program accomplishments.

GAO found that: (1) despite congressional policies and objectives designed to reduce high population growth rates, AID had no projects directed toward motivating couples to limit their family size; (2) the program, implemented by 43 units within AID, lacked overall management or oversight authority and responsibility; (3) because AID lacked a system to provide overall program management above the project level, AID management lacked sufficient information to make sound, fundamental decisions about resource allocations and program priorities; (4) AID did not evaluate the impact of its population assistance in meeting legislative objectives or the priority development needs of recipient countries; (5) AID evaluations were unsystematic, uncoordinated, uneven, and had relatively little influence on project design and management; (6) according to AID, its efforts improved the safety, effectiveness, and acceptability of several contraceptive methods; (7) AID reported that some previously reluctant governments adopted policy reforms and undertook family planning programs; and (8) AID provided training and technical assistance to many program administrators, and equipment and technical support to medical schools and clinics.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID agrees with GAO on the importance of a management system, but claims its existing systems equal a management system. GAO is examining management information system issues as part of the General Management Review of AID.

    Recommendation: To improve program oversight, the Administrator, AID, should develop a centralized management information system to obtain comprehensive financial and management information on all AID population projects and activities, which would also enable the Administrator to improve on making decisions about resource allocations and program priorities.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID has instituted an impact evaluation process. The GAO February 1992 report, NSIAD-92-48, on AID Population Program Evaluations noted that two country programs have been evaluated and four other evaluations are scheduled for fiscal year 1992.

    Recommendation: To improve program evaluation, the Administrator, AID, should direct that an overall program impact evaluation be performed, along with country-specific impact evaluations in those countries with large programs.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development


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