Oversight in Challenging Environments: Lessons from the Syria Response

Feature Report

OIG has identified serious issues in U.S. humanitarian assistance efforts in nonpermissive environments, such as Syria, demonstrating the need for oversight to ensure the effective delivery of humanitarian goods and services. Recognizing that this work serves as a model for examining other humanitarian assistance efforts in nonpermissive environments, we prepared a report to take stock of important lessons learned that could be applied elsewhere.

In the report, we identified several key elements of an effective humanitarian assistance response in nonpermissive environments like Syria. These include: effective fraud and loss-reporting systems; robust agency oversight and monitoring systems; strong internal controls in implementing partner organizations; sound procurement processes; and broad information sharing on fraud risks and indicators.

In response to our observations in these areas, USAID reported taking several actions to improve fraud detection, monitoring and oversight, procurement processes, and accountability in Syria humanitarian assistance programs. For example, the Agency partially suspended awards and debarred or suspended 36 individuals or companies. An additional 20 individuals were removed from employment, downgraded, or resigned. USAID also reported that it instituted 15 systemic changes to help prevent and detect fraud in its programming.

USAID OIG has not yet verified that USAID has fully implemented the reforms it has described or determined whether the reforms have been effective at addressing the underlying problems.