Foreign Aid Recipient Vetting Proposed

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Agency for International Development seeks comments on a proposed regulation amendment meant to vet foreign organizations seeking aid, the agency announced.
     Created by John F. Kennedy by Executive Order in 1961, USAID is responsible for administering aid to developing countries. USAID funds a wide range of efforts including agriculture and food security, innovation in science and technology, and economic and trade growth.
     The proposed amendment would implement the Partner Vetting System (PVS), a “pilot program” the agency says would help identify terrorists or organizations with ties to terrorists.
     “Through the PVS, information collected from individuals, officers, employees or other officials of organizations that seek to receive USAID funding will be used to conduct national security screening of such individuals and organizations to ensure that USAID funds do not inadvertently benefit individuals or entities that are terrorists, supporters of terrorists or affiliated with terrorists,” USAID stated in its action.
     The agency noted that to conduct the screening, collection of information from “key” individuals would be necessary.
     “Key individuals include principle officers of the organization’s governing body (for example, chairman, vice chairman, treasurer and secretary of the board of directors or board of trustees), the principle officer and deputy principal officer of the organization (for example, executive director, deputy director, president, vice president), the program manager or chief of party for the USG (U.S. government)-financed program, and any other person with significant responsibilities for administration of the USG-financed activities or resources,” according to the action. Final parentheses added.)
     The PVS also consists of a “risk-based assessment” meant to identify the risk of funds going to terrorists and terrorist organizations.
     Key factors USAID will consider during the risk assessment include “the nature of the program, the ‘type’ of entity that will be implementing the activity (for example, U.S. non-government organization (NGO), U.S. for-profit organization, foreign NGO, foreign for-profit organization, international organization), the geographic location of the activity, the safeguards available and how easily funds could be diverted or misused.”
     The regulatory action would add another 15 minutes to the time it takes to fill out an application. The agency said there are 10,120 grant applications and that the annual cost of implementing the PVS is estimated to be $31,676 for applicants and $391,810 for the government.
     Other vetting programs are being used in various parts of the world and have proven to be effective in identifying terrorists, according to the action.
     “These vetting programs have proven successful in preventing funds going to unintended recipients and provide a further deterrent to individuals associated with terrorism applying for contracts and/or grants from USAID,” the action noted.
     Comments are due by Sept. 30.

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