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USAID suspends key contractor in Afghanistan

USAID suspends key contractor in Afghanistan

Jan 27, 2015 - 11:35

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The US has suspended one of its largest nonprofit contractors from federal work after investigators found “serious misconduct” in its performance and management of taxpayer money.

International Relief and Development (IRD) has served for years as one of USAIDinfo-icon’s key contractors, undertaking ambitious humanitarian projects in some of the most dangerous places in the worldinfo-icon.

The suspension comes after months of internal USAID reviews of IRD’s performance in the field and reports from the agency’s inspector general that it allegedly mischarged millions of dollars in overhead costs.

A statement from USAID said the Special Inspector General for Afghanistaninfo-icon Reconstructioninfo-icon and the FBI are also investigating the Arlington-headquartered organisation.

“The Agency’s review revealed serious misconduct in IRD’s performance, management, internal controls and present responsibility. USAID has a zero tolerance policy for mismanagement of American taxpayer funds and will take every measure at our disposal to recover these funds.”

Over the past eight years, USAID has awarded more than $2.4 billion in contracts and cooperative agreements to IRD, much of it to fund stabilisation and community-development projects in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Several of those projects have been the subjects of investigations following allegations of waste and fraud. IRD also has been criticised for providing lavish salaries and bonuses to its employees, including the husband-and-wife team who ran the organisation, as well as their family members..

The suspension takes effect immediately, blocking IRD from new federal contracts. But the nonprofit will be permitted to complete projects that are underway.

Roger Ervin, who took over IRD as president six weeks ago, said:  “It is what it is, and we have to deal with it. I take this as an opportunity to make some changes, and many of them are already underway...”

Earlier this month, Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to USAID questioning why IRD and another contractor continued to receive federal work in the face of the allegations.

Corker wrote to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah: “It is difficult to understand why USAID continues to put US tax dollars and national security objectives at risk by doing business with organisations that consistently fail to meet their obligations and engage in potentially illegal and unethical activities.”



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