GAO hammers Ivanka Trump’s policy program
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a new report Wednesday hammered a project spearheaded by Ivanka Trump in the last administration, saying the program suffered from significant problems in its implementation.
Trump helped stand up and lead the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, a federal initiative meant to empower women. The program was meant to codify gender analysis and financially support 10 government agencies’ women’s programs.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was one of the agencies involved in the program and was mandated to provide $265 million a year for at least 19 efforts. Half of the money was required to support women, and the other half was to be allocated to the very poor, with the expectation that there would be some money that helped both groups.
However, the GAO found that USAID has not put together a process to successfully send the money to the targeted programs, has not kept track of its funding to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and was unable to implement guidelines as to what constitutes a business run by women.
“We identified three key gaps that impair USAID’s ability to develop such a process. First, USAID has not identified the total funding subject to the targeting requirements. Second, although USAID has programs designed to help the very poor, it is unable to determine the amount of funding that reaches this group. Third, although USAID has MSME activities that benefit women, it has not defined enterprises owned, managed, and controlled by women and does not collect data by enterprise size,” the GAO said in a report.
“These gaps leave USAID unable to determine what percentage of its MSME resources is going to the very poor and enterprises owned, managed, and controlled by women.”
The GAO’s 14-month audit was finished after reviews of official financial accounts and interviews with USAID staffers located around the globe.
While the White House had narrow control over USAID’s spending, Trump’s team held frequent meetings with career officials who oversaw the agency’s funding for the program, which was mandated under the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act. Some of the issues at USAID uncovered in the report date back to 2015, before Trump’s project was created.
To rectify the issues, the GAO issues six recommendations, including establishing “a definition for enterprises owned, managed, and controlled by women” and crafting new mechanisms to assure that the money is going to the programs for which it is intended.
USAID, which is led by acting administrator Gloria Steele, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill but told Politico it has accepted all six recommendations.