Foreign Assistance:

Non-Emergency Food Aid Provided Through Private Voluntary Organizations

NSIAD-90-179: Published: Jul 24, 1990. Publicly Released: Jul 24, 1990.

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Harold J. Johnson, Jr
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed non-emergency food aid programs sponsored by private voluntary organizations (PVO) and cooperatives in Saharan Africa, focusing on whether PVO: (1) were less willing to sponsor non-emergency projects, particularly in Africa; (2) encountered implementation problems that affected their willingness to continue sponsoring projects, and whether those problems could be addressed by legislative or administrative action; and (3) financial management systems were adequate to account for food aid commodities donated by the U.S. government.

GAO found that: (1) PVO continued to have a strong commitment to the non-emergency food aid program, and were not withdrawing from it; (2) PVO requested more food for the next five years, but did not have specific plans for additional food use; (3) food distribution in sub-Saharan Africa through feeding projects declined, primarily due to changing opinions, implementing difficulties, and project terminations; (4) PVO sought more reliable funding for project costs, but did not adequately support their need for grants equal to at least 2 percent of the program budget; (5) PVO food sponsors were proposing to develop cost implementation data to help donors evaluate funding needs; (6) the Agency for International Development (AID) worked with PVO to revise program regulations, focusing on clarity, accountability, flexibility, and reporting; (7) AID audits concluded that PVO generally lacked adequate management control systems to account for commodities and funds, making the projects vulnerable to fraud, waste, and abuse; (8) such management weaknesses were primarily due to financial constraints; and (9) AID provided a major food aid sponsor a $500,000 grant to help it resolve common food aid management problems.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In April 1991, AID issued guidance to missions requiring field personnel to evaluate the adequacy of PVO financial management systems and to take steps, when needed, to improve these systems.

    Recommendation: To make food aid projects less vulnerable to fraud, waste, and abuse, the Administrator, AID, should consider the adequacy of food aid sponsors' financial and management systems when reviewing their requests to sell title II commodities to generate local currencies, and if such systems are inadequate, ensure that sufficient sales proceeds are set aside for improving those systems.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development


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