USAID Needs To Implement a Comprehensive Risk Management Process and Improve Communication As It Reduces Staff and Programs in Afghanistan

Audit Report
Report Number
8-306-21-002-P
Though Afghanistan is one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign assistance, the Secretary of State directed USAID/Afghanistan to initiate a process to cut staff by 50 percent and reduce programming by over 40 percent to reflect the Trump Administration’s strategic shift away from the war on terror and U.S. military and civilian presence in Afghanistan. Despite these cuts, USAID must still manage risks and exercise fiduciary responsibility for the U.S. investments that remain, including ensuring adequate oversight and the sustainability of programs. While USAID identified staff positions to cut at the mission and assessed the risks those cuts had on oversight, the Agency did not fully identify or assess the risks that program cuts would have on the sustainability of USAID’s investments in Afghanistan. Additionally, USAID did not use all available information resources in preparing risk responses for staff and program cuts and did not fully communicate information regarding risks of the posture adjustment to Congress and key internal stakeholders. We made two recommendations to improve USAID’s management of risks in Afghanistan and level of engagement with Congress and key internal stakeholders.

Recommendations

Recommendation 1

USAID/Afghanistan develop and implement a mission policy requiring the completion of a comprehensive risk assessment which identifies programs that the mission is considering retaining, reducing, or eliminating, including the risks to their sustainability, how it plans to address those risks, and the optimal number and type of staffing needed to oversee remaining programs. The mission should coordinate with the Office of Afghanistan Affairs and develop the risk assessment in consultation with key stakeholders, including Congress, mission staff, and the Office of Human Capital and Talent Management.

Questioned Cost:
$0
Funds For Better Use:
$0
Recommendation 2

USAID/Afghanistan establish requirements in the mission policy that the comprehensive risk assessment be updated annually, or as needed, and that the results be communicated to Congress and key internal stakeholders.

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