From 2005 to 2010, 24 U.S. agencies provided more than $9 billion in trade capacity building (TCB) assistance to help more than 100 countries reduce poverty, increase economic growth, and achieve stability through trade. To report on TCB funding, the U.S. government conducts an annual survey of agencies and publicly reports the data in a TCB database administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). GAO examined (1) how agencies' TCB activities are aligned with the agencies' goals, (2) the extent to which the TCB database provides sufficient information on key trends and funding, and (3) the extent to which USAID monitors and evaluates the effectiveness of its TCB activities. GAO focused on the agencies that reported the most funding for TCB activities since 2005--the Departments of the Army and State, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and USAID--and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). GAO analyzed U.S. government data; reviewed agencies' strategic, budget, and program documents; and met with U.S. and foreign government officials in select countries.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|United States Agency for International Development||1. To enhance the management and evaluation of TCB activities, the Administrator of USAID should explicitly and publicly report the identified limitations associated with the methodology used to collect and report data in the U.S. government TCB database, including MCC and the Army's data issues, and consider ways to differentiate between categories of assistance that directly and indirectly relate to TCB.|
|United States Agency for International Development||2. To enhance the management and evaluation of TCB activities, the Administrator of USAID should develop a written plan that details the actions the agency intends to take to address the findings and recommendations of its recent multicountry evaluation of TCB, and its plans for conducting evaluations of its TCB activities on an on-going basis.|