Contractors concerned about USAID's proposed partner vetting system

    U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah. The aid agency's proposed vetting system has raised concerns among U.S. federal contractors. Photo by: Eric Bridiers / U.S. Mission Geneva / CC BY-ND

    The Professional Services Coalition, the umbrella organization for U.S. federal contractors, has expressed reservations about the U.S. Agency for International Development proposed partner vetting system.

    In a statement issued on Friday, Alan Chvotkin, PSC’s executive vice president and counsel, said that the group was “concerned about the indefinite scope and procedures for partner vetting for both acquisition and assistance.”

    “Even with this proposed rule there is still confusion regarding the vetting of organizations and individuals that must be resolved,” added Chvotkin.

    Facing congressional scrutiny over its plans to channel 30 percent of its funding to local organizations by 2015, USAID formally proposed a partner vetting system designed to prevent the diversion of its resources by terrorist groups and individuals.

    The proposed vetting system would require the agency’s prospective contractors and grantees to turnover personal information about their key personnel as well as of their subrecipients and vendors. USAID has begun to implement a pilot program for the partner vetting system.

    ACLU criticism

    PSC is not alone in its criticism of USAID’s proposed partner vetting system.

    The American Civil Liberties Union has warned that the vetting system would put individuals’ privacy at risk and also undermine due process.

    According to the ACLU, the information seemed by the PVS is “highly personal and confidential,” including U.S. social security and government ID numbers, as well as mailing and email addresses, and information on national origin and citizenship.

    USAID has not clarified how that data will be stored, who will have access to it, or how it will be protected from disclosure.

    The proposed vetting system, added the civil liberties group, may not even be strictly necessary, as ACLU is unaware of any public report of USAID resources being diverted to terrorist organizations or individuals.

    Additional reporting by Carlos Santamaria

    About the author

    • Lorenzo Piccio

      Lorenzo is a former contributing analyst for Devex. Previously Devex's senior analyst for development finance in Manila.