USAID watchdog seeks to restore credibility following misconduct allegations

Michael Carroll, the U.S. aid agency’s acting inspector general, withdrew his nomination to assume the position permanently hours before the publication of a report by The Washington Post saying that his office removed important details from audit reports prior to making them public. Photo by: U.S. Committee on Oversight & Government Reform

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of the Inspector General vowed Thursday to collaborate with stakeholders to ensure its credibility after a media report stated the office removed important details from audit reports before making them public.

In a statement, the office said it “takes matters pertaining to its independence and credibility very seriously” and assured they will work with other government agency watchdogs and members of the U.S. Congress “to ensure that we address any concerns regarding our office.”

“The Office of Inspector General remains committed to providing independent oversight that promotes the efficiency, effectiveness, and integrity of foreign assistance programs and operations,” the office said in the statement.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the office had deleted crucial details about USAID spending policies including a secret payment of $4.6 million to the Egyptian government to bail out aid workers from jail in Egypt. The humanitarians were arrested in the North African country after being hired by USAID to set up pro-democracy programs following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The nongovernmental organizations they worked for weren’t legally registered in Egypt.

Just hours before the article was published, Michael Carroll, the U.S. aid agency’s acting inspector general, withdrew his nomination to assume the position in a permanent capacity. He got the temporary role after Donald Gambatesa resigned from his post more than 16 months ago.

USAID’s Office of the Inspector General is “required by law to keep Congress ‘fully and currently informed’ about fraud and other serious problems, abuses and deficiencies at their respective agencies,” said Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in a statement released Thursday.

“Any violation of this mandate is unacceptable,” the California Republican said in the statement.

Royce called for a swift probe into the leak and also raised the problem of USAID lacking a permanent inspector general for such a long time.

“The Foreign Affairs Committee is working with the Office of the Inspector General to get to the bottom of this matter,” Royce noted. “In the meantime, the president and Senate should act swiftly to nominate and confirm a permanent inspector general at [the agency, which] has lacked a top cop on the beat for 1,104 days.”

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About the author

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    Jeff Tyson

    Jeff is a global development reporter for Devex. Based in Washington, DC, he covers multilateral affairs, U.S. aid and international development trends. He has worked with human rights organizations in both Senegal and the United States, and prior to joining Devex worked as a production assistant at National Public Radio. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in international relations and French from the University of Rochester.