USAID audit cost taxpayers nearly $150,000 per page?

The Agency for International Development this month released only scant details of a Cuba program audit that cost taxpayers at least $1.47 million in 2009 and 2010.
In response to a March 18, 2011, Freedom of Information Act request, USAID sent me a heavily redacted 10-page report that omits most findings, recommendations and other key information, including the identity of the aid recipients named in the audit.
USAID said it could not find any other reports or paperwork related to the audit. I find it impossible to believe that a $1.47 million audit didn’t leave more of a paper trail, but let’s just suppose that it’s true. That would mean that the 10 pages posted above cost taxpayers nearly $150,000 each.
Federal records identify the auditor as The DMP Group, located at 2233 Wisconsin Ave NW, Suite 405, in Washington, D.C.
USAID paid the company $2,534,418 from 2008 to 2011, according to the website USAspending.gov. At least $1,473,417.55 went toward the audit of Cuba programs managed by USAID’s Bureau of Latin America and the Caribbean, records show. USAID’s contract with The DMP Group ended on Sept. 29, 2011.
The company’s 10-page report appears to cover a single USAID contract, identified only as Award Number RLA-A-00-08-00018-00, covering May 1, 2008, to Feb. 28, 2009.
USAID explained in a Dec. 1 letter why it withheld information from the report:

Proprietary business information contained within the report is being withheld…The type of information that is being withheld in this instance is: business strategies and the results of financial review.

The agency said it withheld the names of the companies because disclosure would amount to “a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
The letter added:

Releasing the names of the companies involved could put employees of those companies at great risk because of security concerns regarding Cuba. Employees associated with the U.S. Government could be subjected to threats, intimidation, harassment and/or violence. Further, if we were to allow the security of our implementers and their employees to be compromised, all of USAID’s programs worldwide and USAID’s relationships with its implementers could be jeopardized.

I appealed the agency’s response to my FOIA request. See my appeal here. In my view, USAID’s response is a striking illustration of the lack of accountability within the agency’s Cuba programs. Releasing a paltry 10-page report when asked for the results of an audit costing taxpayers at least $1.47 million is a willful and flagrant abuse of the public’s trust.

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Tracey Eaton was the Dallas Morning News bureau chief in Cuba from 2000 to early 2005. Before that, he headed the paper’s Mexico City bureau. Eaton, a former Fulbright scholar, has been a journalist and photographer since 1983. He travels to Havana regularly. In 2010 and again in 2011, Eaton received a Pulitzer Center grant to support his reporting in Cuba. He has been investigating U.S.-financed pro-democracy programs in Cuba.

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12 Responses

  1. laz says:

    enough money to defeat the Castro regime bombing Coke cans

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