USAID's inspector general has been investigating IRD for 'months'

Wheat seed distribution under Afghanistan Vouchers for Increased Productive Agriculture, a relief and stabilization program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented by the International Relief and Development. The aid agency’s Office of the Inspector General is reviewing IRD’s conduct and use of U.S. government funding. Photo by: USAID Afghanistan

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of the Inspector General has been conducting an investigation into International Relief and Development, one of USAID’s largest implementing partners, for “months,” according to a well-placed government source.

The source, which was not authorized to speak on the record, told Devex that the OIG is not looking into any “specific” issue or allegation, but is reviewing “everything” about the organization’s conduct and its use of U.S. government funding.

According to the source, the USAID watchdog has pulled all of the audits conducted on IRD programs from the last five or six years to aid its work.

The OIG’s probe is supporting a simultaneous inquiry by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, which is leading the overall investigation, the source said.

Bill Pierce, who serves as a spokesperson for IRD, told Devex on Wednesday that he was not aware of an OIG investigation that had been going on for months. IRD representatives will meet with the inspector general in the coming days.

IRD came under fire this week after the Washington Post questioned the nonprofit’s effectiveness in Afghanistan and Iraq, its awarding of sizeable bonuses to members of the founding family and other senior employees, as well as its habit — not unusual in the industry — of hiring former USAID staff members. The Post also noted that upon leaving the organization, IRD employees eager to receive a severance package have been asked to sign confidentiality agreements that warn them against making “critical” statements about the organization to “officials of any government.”

On Monday, SIGAR chief John Sopko sent letters to IRD CEO Arthur Keys and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah informing them of his office’s inquiry and requesting information on the confidentiality agreements. But as Devex suggested on Monday — and our government source confirmed — the government’s review of IRD’s work appears to be broader than that.

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About the author

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    Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.