Skip to Highlights
Highlights

Eighty percent of Afghans are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Agricultural assistance is a key U.S. contribution to Afghanistan's reconstruction efforts. Since 2002, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded about $1.4 billion for agricultural programs to increase agricultural productivity, accelerate economic growth, and eliminate illicit drug cultivation. This report (1) describes the change in U.S. focus on agricultural assistance since 2002, (2) assesses USAID's performance management and evaluation of its agricultural programs, (3) analyzes the extent to which certain programs met targets, and (4) addresses efforts to mitigate implementation challenges. GAO reviewed USAID documents; analyzed program data; and interviewed program implementers and USAID officials in Washington, D.C., and Afghanistan. GAO has prepared this report as part of its ongoing efforts to monitor key aspects of U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.

Skip to Recommendations

Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
United States Agency for International Development 1. To enhance the performance management of USAID's agricultural programs in Afghanistan, the Administrator of USAID should take steps to ensure the approval of implementing partner performance indicators.
Closed - Implemented
In commenting on a draft of this report, USAID concurred with our recommendation. In December 2010, USAID's Afghanistan Office of Agriculture received approval for its new Performance Monitoring Plan and began working with its implementing partners to align their existing indicators with those in the new Performance Monitoring Plan. All of USAID's implementing partners in Afghanistan are now reporting on a shared set of indicators through the Mission-wide Afghan Info reporting system.
United States Agency for International Development 2. To enhance the performance management of USAID's agricultural programs in Afghanistan, the Administrator of USAID should take steps to ensure that implementing partners establish targets for all performance indicators.
Closed - Implemented
In commenting on a draft of this report, USAID concurred with our recommendation. In December 2010, USAID's Afghanistan Office of Agriculture received approval for its new Performance Monitoring Plan and began working with its implementing partners to align their existing indicators with those in the new Performance Monitoring Plan. USAID subsequently completed approval of all implementing partner Performance Monitoring Plans, which include the implementing partners' performance indicator targets, in April 2011.
United States Agency for International Development 3. To enhance the performance management of USAID's agricultural programs in Afghanistan, the Administrator of USAID should take steps to consistently analyze and interpret program data, such as determining the extent to which annual targets are met.
Closed - Implemented
In commenting on a draft of this report, USAID concurred with our recommendation and pointed to a number of steps it is taking to increase its analysis and interpretation of program data. USAID noted that the Office of Agriculture's Contracting and Agreement Officer's Technical Representatives continuously review data on program progress and monitor program performance and that USAID staff review performance data during the preparation of the annual Performance Plan and Report, as well as during portfolio reviews presented to USAID and/or Embassy leadership. USAID further noted that with the new roll-out of the delegation of authority to field program officers to serve as activity managers of Office of agriculture programs, field program officers will now be responsible for conducting regular project monitoring and reporting on program performance, verify data reported by implementing partners and assure quality of data being reported through regular site visits. USAID/Afghanistan has taken steps to increase the use of third party monitoring to ensure data integrity and quality. Finally, USAID/Afghanistan noted that it has rolled out the Afghan Info electronic data base to track program performance, implementation pace, and financial disbursement rates. USAID/Afghanistan can now monitor data through the data base by means of the routine uploading of results.
United States Agency for International Development 4. To enhance the performance management of USAID's agricultural programs in Afghanistan, the Administrator of USAID should take steps to make use of results from evaluations of its agricultural programs.
Closed - Implemented
In commenting on a draft of this report, USAID concurred with our recommendation. USAID noted that it uses any and all assessments and evaluations in the design process for its programs. As an example, USAID noted that it had completed the final evaluation of its three completed Alternative Development Programs, and that these reports were used as part of the review of proposals for new regional agricultural development programs.
United States Agency for International Development 5. To enhance the performance management of USAID's agricultural programs in Afghanistan, the Administrator of USAID should take steps to address preservation of institutional knowledge.
Closed - Implemented
USAID concurred with our recommendation. USAID noted that program monitoring officials in Afghanistan were maintaining program documentation in electronic files on a shared drive for use by current and incoming staff. USAID said it took additional steps to further ensure that institutional knowledge is not lost during turnovers. First, the agreement that program monitoring officials agree to when first taking their positions includes responsibility for maintaining adequate files. Also, in December 2011, USAID established mandatory technical guidance for program monitoring officials on how to establish and where to maintain files, in addition to key responsibilities of the office director to ensure that files are maintained as required before officials leave their positions. In January 2012, program monitoring officials were formally reminded of their responsibilities regarding file maintenance. In February 2012, USAID also launched a new Internet site called AllNet Portal (portal.usaidallnet.gov) to allow USAID officials to collaborate with its partners. According to USAID, this site helps USAID consolidate information and allows outside partners to make meaningful contributions to agency activities. Finally, according to USAID, it is expanding its Foreign Service National staff, which is the traditional method of ensuring continuity and working to increase the overlap between transitioning staff.

Full Report

GAO Contacts