WASHINGTON — U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green has ordered a review of all of the agency’s current agreements with Oxfam, in response to reports of sexual misconduct committed by Oxfam employees.
“Immediately upon learning of the allegations, USAID began assessing available facts, and the Agency’s Suspending and Debarring Official, with the Compliance Division in the Management Bureau, continue to gather information, evaluate potential impact to USAID programs, and weigh appropriate actions,” USAID Spokesperson Clayton McCleskey told Devex.
“As USAID collects information on awards to the implicated organizations, we will continue to share with the [Office of the Inspector General] to explore the appropriateness of audit and investigation,” McCleskey said, adding that USAID’s Office of the Inspector General is in contact with the Internal Audit Division of the United Kingdom's Department for International Development.
Last Friday, The Times newspaper revealed the contents of an internal report from 2011, which had investigated claims of sexual exploitation and bullying, including paying women for sex, among Oxfam staff in Haiti in the aftermath of the Port-au-Prince earthquake. Those revelations prompted Penny Mordaunt, the United Kingdom’s international development secretary, to demand a series of reforms inside the U.K. Department for International Development and among its partners to crack down on sexual abuse by aid workers. The moves included the creation of a new safeguarding unit to “urgently review safeguarding across all parts of the aid sector.”
USAID’s spokesperson said that Green held a call with mission directors and senior agency leaders this week, in which he stressed his zero-tolerance policy. USAID has also worked with its inspector general to highlight channels for employees to report misconduct, abuse, or fraud.
On Friday, Green sent an executive message to USAID staff.
“I have been deeply troubled by recent allegations of sexual exploitation by aid workers. USAID works across the globe to protect vulnerable populations and advance human dignity. This is a serious endeavor and one that comes with great responsibility. Sexual exploitation is contrary to our core mission and is abhorrent,” he wrote.
“As I have made clear from my earliest days as Administrator, I have zero tolerance for misconduct, abuse, or fraud involving USAID staff or implementing partners. The Agency has policies and procedures in place to prevent such misconduct. A key component of those policies and procedures is the obligation to report,” he added.