Foreign Assistance:

Assessment of Selected USAID Projects in Russia

NSIAD-95-156: Published: Aug 3, 1995. Publicly Released: Sep 6, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Agency for International Development's (AID) assistance projects in Russia, focusing on whether: (1) individual AID projects met their objectives and contributed to systemic reforms; (2) the projects had common characteristics that contributed to their successful or unsuccessful outcomes; and (3) AID adequately managed the Russian projects.

GAO found that: (1) some of the projects reviewed fully met or exceeded their objectives, while other projects met few or none of their objectives; (2) three AID projects contributed to fundamental structural changes in Russia because they had sustainability built into their design and they focused on national or regional issues; (3) the successful projects had broad and strong support from all levels of the Russian government, U.S. contractors with long-term physical presence in Russia, a broad scope to maximize benefits, and specific sustainability objectives, and complemented or supported Russian initiatives; (4) Russian officials' commitment to reform in certain sectors was critical to project success; (5) the unsuccessful projects were poorly designed and implemented and often had little or no impact on problems; (6) AID made certain exceptions to its normal procedures and processes in its desire to respond quickly to assist Russia; and (7) AID failed to adequately manage some projects because of problems in delegating management and monitoring responsibility to the Moscow AID office, inadequate staff, and inadequate management information systems.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID fully agreed with this recommendation. AID has now focused its assistance efforts on projects that will contribute to systemic reforms, are designed with sustainability, and maximize use of resident contractors rather than short-term consultants. These changes were verified during a June 1996 GAO investigation in Russia.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should focus assistance efforts on projects that: (1) will contribute to systemic reforms; (2) are designed to be sustainable; (3) are supported by all levels of Russian government; and (4) whenever possible, use American contractors with an in-country presence.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development


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