Why We Did This Audit
The emergence of COVID-19 and the resulting pandemic led to USAID taking public health and safety measures, such as authorizing the return of U.S. Government personnel to the United States and providing maximum telework flexibilities across the Agency’s missions. Personnel remaining at overseas missions were severely limited in their ability to travel both within and outside of their countries, resulting in many USAID missions seeing a reduction in their ability to monitor foreign assistance programs.
We initiated this audit to provide an objective analysis of the impact COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on USAID and its ability to monitor its programs and to report our findings to external interested parties, including congressional stakeholders.
Our audit objectives were to identify (1) what was the impact of COVID-19 on USAID missions’ capacity to monitor programs and (2) what steps USAID has taken to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on program monitoring.
Officials from USAID’s Bureaus for Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East, and selected missions—USAID/Burma, USAID/Egypt, USAID/Haiti, and USAID/Nigeria—cited challenges to program monitoring efforts, including movement restrictions and technology challenges. These restrictions:
- limited staffs’ ability to conduct in-person site visits,
- limited in-person verification of data from implementers, and
- kept staff from engaging directly with beneficiaries.
However, missions continued some monitoring of foreign assistance programs through adapted approaches, and USAID provided monitoring policy flexibilities and guidance designed to help them.
All the selected missions noted that they benefited from the flexibilities and guidance that USAID provided and adapted monitoring accordingly. However, as the pandemic continues to limit the ability of in-person engagement, the extent to which the flexibilities adopted by USAID have been effective at monitoring and ensuring program performance remains unknown. The effectiveness of USAID’s limited monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic will likely be seen later on through mechanisms such as Agency program evaluations and independent financial and performance audits.
We made no recommendations.