USAID Has Gaps in Planning, Risk Mitigation, and Monitoring of Its Humanitarian Assistance in Africa's Lake Chad Region

Audit Report
Report Number
4-000-21-001-P
Insurgencies led by the terrorist group Boko Haram have fed a long-running humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad region of central-west Africa. To address the humanitarian crisis and contribute to the broader U.S. Government efforts to counter terrorism in Africa, USAID had 141 awards in the region that were active at some point during fiscal years 2015 through 2017, valued at over $1.1 billion. Instances of fraud and diversion in similar environments in which USAID provides assistance, such as Syria and Iraq, highlight the importance of robust oversight to address heightened risks in the Lake Chad region. To address access restrictions and insecurity that limited its ability to directly observe program activities in the Lake Chad region, USAID pursued a third-party monitoring contract to augment its programmatic monitoring and oversight. However, the execution of a third-party monitoring contract was hindered by the lack of a formal planning process. Ultimately, a third-party monitoring contract covering only Nigeria was awarded in April 2019, 4 years after the need was first identified. To prevent the diversion of aid to terrorists, USAID established requirements and implemented a due diligence process for activities with certain risks identified in the award proposals. However, USAID did not review implementers’ post-distribution monitoring reports to verify that implementers followed up on the distribution and use of USAID-funded commodities—one risk mitigation measure taken by implementers. In addition, implementers in the Lake Chad region could use noncompetitive procurements, which have been associated with fraud schemes involving humanitarian assistance in other conflict zones. Despite the heightened risks, USAID did not require implementers to inform the awarding offices of the use of noncompetitive procurements, hindering its ability to oversee implementers’ procurement activities. We made four recommendations to the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance to help strengthen USAID’s oversight of its response to the Lake Chad crisis.

Recommendations

Recommendation 1

USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance establish criteria that trigger a joint assessment by the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and any other relevant USAID offices, at the start of an Agency response to a humanitarian crisis, to determine whether a third-party monitor is necessary. This assessment should include determining a timeline for issuing the contract and assignment of responsibility to the appropriate employee(s) with the authority to plan and procure third-party monitoring contracts.

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Funds For Better Use:
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Recommendation 2

USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance conduct a comprehensive and documented assessment to determine whether a third-party monitor is necessary to oversee current USAID-funded activities in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger related to the Lake Chad crisis,

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Funds For Better Use:
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Recommendation 3

USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance for humanitarian assistance awards in the Lake Chad region, update documented policies to (1) require implementers that prepare post-distribution monitoring reports to submit them when completed to the agreement officer's representative and (2) require the awarding USAID office to review the reports and take any appropriate corrective action.

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Recommendation 4

USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance for all humanitarian assistance awards under the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance's control in high-risk environments, update documented guidelines to require periodic monitoring of noncompetitive procurements by non-public international organization implementers that include collecting information on the nature and extent of their use to help identify, assess, and mitigate fraud risks

Questioned Cost:
$0
Funds For Better Use:
$0