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Highlights

In fiscal years 2006- 2008, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which has primary responsibility for promoting democracy abroad, implemented democracy assistance projects in about 90 countries. The Department of State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (State DRL) and the private, nonprofit National Endowment for Democracy (NED) also fund democracy programs in many of these countries. Partly to lessen the risk of duplicative programs, State recently initiated efforts to reform and consolidate State and USAID foreign assistance processes. GAO reviewed (1) democracy assistance funding provided by USAID, State DRL, and NED in fiscal year 2008; (2) USAID, State DRL, and NED efforts to coordinate their democracy assistance; and (3) USAID efforts to assess results and evaluate the impact of its democracy assistance. GAO analyzed U.S. funding and evaluation documents, interviewed USAID, State, and NED officials in the United States and abroad, and reviewed specific democracy projects in 10 countries.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of State 1. To enhance coordination of U.S.-funded democracy assistance efforts, and in support of the Department of State's first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator, while recognizing NED's status as a private nonprofit organization, should work jointly with NED to establish a mechanism to routinely collect information about NED's current projects in countries where NED and State or USAID provide democracy assistance.
Closed - Implemented
All three entities agreed with this recommendation. In response to GAO's recommendation, State has taken action to improve coordination with National Endowment for Democracy (NED). According to a program analyst in State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), starting in 2010 State now collects information on NED's quarterly grants and posts that information to DRL's intranet website. After posting this information, State then sends a cable out to posts overseas announcing that NED's grant information is available. State is currently working with NED to continue this practice with NED's 2011 grant information. The program analyst noted that GAO's democracy report and recommendation was an important factor in focusing State to begin disseminating NED's grant information out to State's officers around the world where democracy grants are implemented.
United States Agency for International Development 2. To enhance coordination of U.S.-funded democracy assistance efforts, and in support of the Department of State's first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, the Secretary of State and the USAID Administrator, while recognizing NED's status as a private nonprofit organization, should work jointly with NED to establish a mechanism to routinely collect information about NED's current projects in countries where NED and State or USAID provide democracy assistance.
Closed - Implemented
All three entities agreed with this recommendation. In response to the recommendation, a number of steps have been taken. According to a key USAID democracy program official, since 2010, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has been providing USAID with information on its quarterly grant decisions. USAID places this information on its internal agency intranet. (Names of grantees in sensitive countries are not included, per NED's request.) USAID then announces in its monthly electronic magazine for democracy and governance officers overseas that NED grant information is available and provides the intranet link for the information. According to USAID, this action allows for improved coordination by allowing USAID field staff to see specific NED grant information. The USAID official stated that GAO's report was instrumental in prompting these changes.

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