Inter-American Foundation:

Allegations of Improper Contracting and Personnel Actions at the Foundation

OSI-99-11R: Published: May 20, 1999. Publicly Released: May 20, 1999.

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Robert H. Hast
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO investigated the allegations that Adolfo Franco, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for the Inter-American Foundation (IAF), violated contracting regulations and personnel policies in his attempts to hire Carlos Urquidi for the auditor position at IAF, focusing on if IAF violated: (1) Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) in procuring the services of Mr. Urquidi; and (2) Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations or personnel policies in its attempts to fill the auditor position.

GAO noted that: (1) IAF improperly issued a sole source purchase order to a temporary-help firm in violation of the FAR; (2) IAF also violated an OPM regulation that limits an agency's use of an individual employee of a temporary-help firm to 240 days; (3) in addition to IAF's violation of the FAR and OPM regulation, Mr. Franco manipulated the hiring process in an unsuccessful attempt to appoint Mr. Urquidi to the permanent auditor position; (4) Mr. Franco cancelled a vacancy announcement, delayed issuing another vacancy announcement, and then allowed the resulting certification to expire in order to allow Mr. Urquidi to obtain his U.S. citizenship and resolve outstanding criminal allegations in Bolivia; (5) throughout this process, IAF contracted for Mr. Urquidi to temporarily fill the auditor position until Mr. Franco could appoint him to the permanent position; (6) due to Mr. Franco's actions, IAF did not appoint a permanent auditor despite receiving applications from a total of 20 applicants in response to 3 vacancy announcements over a period of almost 2 years; (7) the position remains vacant; (8) GAO requested assistance from the Department of State to determine whether Mr. Urquidi is a fugitive wanted by the Bolivian government; (9) the State Department is investigating the matter; (10) GAO also contacted the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) to determine whether Mr. Urquidi had failed to disclose his pending criminal complaint in Bolivia on his application for U.S. citizenship; and (11) INS is investigating the matter.

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