Management Challenges - USAID

Bureau of Resource Management
May 10, 2010

Every year, USAID’s OIG identifies management challenges that affect the ability of the Agency to deliver foreign assistance. The FY 2009 challenges relate to working in conflict areas, managing for results, acquisitions and assistance, human capital management, and information technology management. In response to OIG’s recommendations, the Agency takes immediate remedial actions. Some highlights are outlined below. See the FY 2009 USAID Agency Financial Report at page 111 for the OIG’s memorandum on this subject, dated November 3, 2009, and the full Agency response.

OIG Challenge Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Oversight of USAID programs is complicated by deteriorating security and a myriad other problems, including widespread corruption at the local level and USAID staffing issues.
Actions Taken USAID/Washington continued to strengthen recruitment of appropriately skilled staff for Critical Priority Countries and issued a new policy on alternative methods for monitoring in High Threat Environments (HTEs). The Asia and Middle East bureaus also launched a website on resources and best practices on monitoring in HTEs gleaned from field officers, implementing partners and other organizations.
Actions Remaining Continuing investment in security and staff training are essential for effective and efficient program implementation. Further outreach and dialogue with Department of State Regional Security Officers, particularly in the Middle East and South and Central Asia will continue with the goal of increasing USAID program managers’ access to field sites.
OIG Challenge Assistance Planning. In FY 2009, 20 OIG audits reported that overall program performance indicators and targets were not established, overall program targets were not assigned to specific contractors or grantees, and performance targets in program management plans, contracts and grants, and annual work plans were inconsistent or contradicted each other.
Actions Taken In 2009, USAID developed and implemented a training course on Managing for Results (MfR) that aims to revitalize staff skills in planning and performance management including lessons on indicator selection, target setting, developing performance management plans, and incorporating monitoring and evaluation actions into contracts and grants. Approximately 140 people have been trained to date.
Actions Remaining Additional MfR workshops are scheduled to occur in FY 2010, and technical assistance to Missions and offices on performance management is ongoing.
OIG Challenge Results Reporting. Some of the performance narratives do not place results in context or provide a balanced, objective description of program performance. In FY 2009, 18 OIG reports disclosed that data reported by USAID Operating Units (OUs) or their partners were misstated.
Actions Taken FY 2008 marked the first year for all USAID and Department of State OUs (over 180 OUs) to submit a Performance Plan and Report (PPR). Each PPR was reviewed and feedback provided to the OU noting the report’s strengths and weaknesses. If narratives lacked country context or linkages to outcome and impact goals, this was noted in a memo to the OU with a deadline for a revised report. The Department’s Office of the Director for Foreign Assistance (State/F) conducted an after action review (AAR) and survey to identify challenges that OUs faced in completing the PPR, to identify and correct any misunderstandings, and to see where the PPR guidance and process could be clarified, strengthened, or modified. The survey findings were incorporated into the guidance for the FY 2009 PPRs.
Actions Remaining F expects to continue to seek improvements in the way OUs report results and in the review of and feedback process to OUs.
OIG Challenge Deploying a Global Acquisition and Assistance System (GLAAS). Potential challenges for USAID include complying with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 mandates, providing adequate direct-hire support for GLAAS activities, and managing various project artifacts.
Actions Taken USAID increased its staff's awareness and understanding of procedures for Recovery Act-related funds. The Agency staffed GLAAS with direct hires in the lead positions required to address all challenges and strengthened the document review process to ensure that all deliverables and documents are appropriately reviewed before being finalized. The GLAAS team established a formal Control Account Plan for carrying out the full range of activities necessary to complete the project.
Actions Remaining Recovery Act invoice payments tracking has improved due to additional training and incorporation of efficiencies. GLAAS direct hire staffing is adequate and standardization and improvement of all processes are ongoing.
OIG Challenge Using Performance Based Contracting. The OIG audits have shown that USAID has not incorporated all of the Federal Acquisition Regulation requirements for performance-based contracting for some of its procurements. For example, USAID did not always incorporate meaningful performance standards to the maximum extent practicable, use quality assurance surveillance plans, or incorporate performance incentives into the task orders to the maximum extent practicable.
Actions Taken USAID created a full-time position in the Office of Acquisition and Assistance for a performance-based contracting expert to advise on the subject. The individual was hired on schedule in January 2010.
Actions Remaining None.
OIG Challenge Workforce Planning. USAID needs to continue to implement its workforce planning strategy to close skills gaps through recruitment, retention, training, succession planning, and other strategies.
Actions Taken USAID has developed and begun implementation of the DLI, the Human Capital Strategic Plan FY 2009-13, and a five-year workforce plan for the same period.
Actions Remaining USAID will continue implementing all aspects of the Human Capital Strategic Plan and associated five-year workforce plan, which will be updated to reflect the strategic directives of the new administration.
OIG Challenge Implementing Homeland Security Presidential Directive-12 (HSPD-12) Initiative. USAID lacks the resources needed to carry out this Government-wide initiative and relies on the Department of State implementation plan until one is developed for USAID.
Actions Taken HSPD-12 identification cards were issued to all domestic USAID employees and Ronald Reagan Building physical access controls are in place.
Actions Remaining Full compliance for physical access controls overseas is dependent on Department of State implementation.

Illustration of the earth with grass growing over all the continents to indicate a green world. Greening Diplomacy

The United States and other countries that have been the biggest historic emitters of greenhouse gases should shoulder the biggest burden for cleaning up the environment and reducing the U.S. carbon footprint. On Earth Day, April 22, 2009, Secretary Clinton launched the Greening Diplomacy Initiative (GDI), a new commitment to lead by example and improve the sustainability of the Department of State’s facilities and operations. The GDI will harness the Department’s policy, management, and public diplomacy capacities to advance greening efforts and incorporate greening and sustainability into the Department’s everyday operations.

Objectives of the Initiative include:
  • Developing and implementing strategies that reduce the Department’s carbon footprint.
  • Empowering employees to contribute to and participate in greening efforts.
  • Leveraging best practices internally and externally, and monitoring progress of the Department’s ongoing greening efforts.
  • Connecting the management of the Department with its diplomacy and development efforts.
Greening in Action:
  • There are now 104 solar panels located on the roof of the Department of State’s main building, the Harry S Truman (HST) building.
  • The HST building recycles nearly 250 tons of waste annually and on August 1, the cafeteria completely phased out styrofoam cups, trays, and dishes.
  • The Department is recycling or reusing over 75% of all construction and demolition waste from the ongoing HST renovations.
  • All new Embassy and consular building projects must receive the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification.
  • Members of the League of Green Embassies are working with both the Departments of State and Energy toward a goal of cutting energy usage at their embassies by 30% by 2015.