Watchdog asked to probe largest ever USAID contract

22 November 2017

Two US senators have called on the US Agency for International Development (USAID) inspector general to conduct an inquiry into USAID’s largest ever contract—a $9.5bn project managed by Chemonics International.

Senators Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, both Republicans and respective chairs of the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy, published a letter they sent to Ann Calvaresi Barr, USAID’s inspector general.

The letter outlined the senators’ “great concerns” about the performance of the Global Health Supply Chain—Procurement Supply Management project— a project to ensure uninterrupted supplies of health commodities to the government's global health initatives— and requested the development watchdog initiate an inquiry and report back to the Foreign Affairs committee.

The senators cited specific concerns about the project’s struggle to deliver shipments on time. They said Chemonic’s quarterly reports indicated that in the first three months of this year, only 7% of health commodity shipments were delivered to final destination on time.

“Information we have received indicates that disruptions with the supply chain as a result of unsatisfactory performance by the contractor are so serious that the life and health of millions of people may be at risk in the countries that receive US assistance through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the President’s Malaria Initiative and other health programmes,” they wrote.

“We are looking to you to carry out independent oversight of this issue to help solve the problem.”

The senators added that there were two issues they hoped the inspector general would examine.

“First is the depth of knowledge and ability of USAID procurement and contracting personnel to evaluate contract proposals and performance, given the complex nature of the global supply chain from manufacturer to delivery in-country,” they wrote. 

“Of equal importance is the performance of Chemonics and its ability to meet contract requirements.” 

Responding to the letter, Jane Gotiangco, Chemonics spokeswoman, said the company has committed to achieving an on-time delivery rate of 60% by December 2017 and to consistently deliver 80% on time shortly after.

“Our ongoing monitoring data validation shows that we exceeded the 60% target in October, two months ahead of schedule,” she said.

“In addition, over 95% of orders have been delivered in full.” 

Mark Green, USAID administrator, said in response to the senator’s request, he planned to review the agency’s procurement practice.

Republican Chris Smith from New Jersey has said he intends to hold a hearing to question USAID about its decision to award it largest-ever contract to Chemonics in 2015.

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