Significant Events Surrounding USAID’s Iraq Religious and Ethnic Minority Portfolio and Award Management Challenges

Report Number

Why We Did This Evaluation

The genocide and war crimes committed by ISIS against religious and ethnic minorities in northern Iraq has made getting assistance to these groups a focus of significant attention by multiple administrations, members of Congress, and religious minority constituencies.

We conducted an evaluation of USAID’s religious and ethnic minority (REM) portfolio in Iraq to objectively report on significant events surrounding the development of USAID’s Iraq REM portfolio from 2017 to 2019 and key challenges that related to the management of awards providing assistance to REM groups.

Key Findings

USAID sought to revise its strategy in Iraq by providing more assistance to religious and ethnic minority groups through local organizations and various implementing mechanisms. However, the initial mechanism, a Broad Agency Announcement, resulted in awards still going to large international organizations. By October 2019, USAID was able to increase the award mix of the REM portfolio and engage directly with local Iraqi organizations through a new implementing mechanism, the New Partnerships Initiative.

USAID staff faced challenges executing and managing awards while handling significant media attention and increased involvement of senior leadership. In addition, USAID/Iraq staffing levels were reduced as monitoring requirements increased. Staffing limitations impacted the mission’s ability to manage New Partnerships Initiative awards, resulting in awards being managed from headquarters.

While we are not making recommendations, this report is designed to inform Agency leadership and other congressional stakeholders who may be able to determine whether mitigation measures were effective and whether further actions are needed to help USAID better prepare for future policy shifts and any resulting challenges in award management.