Audit of USAID Democracy Programs in Egypt

Audit of USAID Democracy Programs in Egypt

Last week, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a comprehensive new report entitled, “Audit of USAID/Egypt’s Democracy and Governance Activities,” which evaluates the effectiveness of USAID’s democracy and governance programs in Egypt through Fiscal Year 2008.

The report concludes that while USAID has designed and awarded $181 million in program activities that focus on rule of law and human rights, governance, and civil society since FY 2004, the impact has been “limited” on the ground. OIG primarily blames this slow progress on “a lack of support from the Government of Egypt.” According to the report, the Egyptian regime has “impeded implementers’ activities […] through delays and cancellations.”

However, while the audit sees direct grants to civil society as a rare bright spot, concluding that “USAID/Egypt’s Office of Democracy and Governance achieved its greatest success in its civil society direct grants program, which provided grants and cooperative agreements valued from $192,000 to $1.4 million during FY 2008.”  This is ironic, as civil society funding, including this direct grants program, was the portion of USAID funding in Egypt most severely cut (by 78%) in 2009.

The report sets forth 10 specific recommendations for USAID, none of which specifically address the problem of the Egyptian government’s lack of cooperation:

1. Develop a training program on USAID regulations for assistance recipients.

2. Develop a training program for USAID staff on democracy and governance.

3. Review USAID programs on anti-terrorism measures.

4.  Train USAID staff on anti-terrorism measures.

5.  Create a checklist to document management reviews as part of democracy and governance assessments.

6.  Let management decide the issue of cost sharing and recover cost share contributions identified as $8,493.

7. Review democracy and government agreements’ financial information to determine asses cost share contributions and establish a plan to recover outstanding contributions.

8.  Develop plan to require its technical representatives to provide certification about training participants’ noncompliance with documentation requirements

9.  Evaluate options for unused equipment.

10.  Review authorizing designation letters for its technical representatives to ensure staff has authority to manage agreements and approve payments.