Posted January 22, 2010
Between 2004 and 2008, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) showered more than $330 million on an obscure United Nations agency known as UNOPS — United Nations Office for Project Services — to carry out development aid projects in Afghanistan. What happened next wasn’t pretty.
[efoods]Among other things, USAID apparently overlooked a growing stack of U.N. audits and investigations that pointed to fraud, mismanagement and lack of internal financial controls by UNOPS in Afghanistan, even as the U.S. agency continued to shovel money in UNOPS’s direction. So did other branches of the U.S. government, to the tune of an additional $100 million.
In a stunning number of cases, however, USAID also ignored its own oversight procedures and did not even insist that contracts with UNOPS enshrine the agency’s uncontested right to access financial records that would tell how the U.S. government money was spent. Consequently those records were never examined.
In other cases, it looked like legal loopholes were created to make sure UNOPS got to keep its financial records out of USAID’s reach.
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