McCaskill demands answers on USAID compliance with defense bill

Senator Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillTrump mocked for low attendance at rally Missouri county issues travel advisory for Lake of the Ozarks after Memorial Day parties Senate faces protracted floor fight over judges amid pandemic safety concerns MORE (D-Mo.) is demanding to know why the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) didn’t comply with a provision in a defense bill, leading to suspension of contractor being reversed.

“The purpose of Section 861, like the other wartime contracting provisions whose inclusion I won in the [National Defense Authorization Act], was to give agencies like USAID additional tools to hold contractors responsible, not to give contractors a way to avoid accountability,” McCaskill wrote in a letter Tuesday to Alfonso Lendhardt, acting director of USAID. “Any delay in complying with the requirements of the NDAA risks leaving taxpayer dollars vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse.”

In January, USAID suspended one of its largest nonprofit contractors, International Relief and Development (IRD), amid allegations of misconduct in performance and management of taxpayer money, according to The Washington Post.

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IRD sued, and USAID reversed the suspension. The reversal was done in part because USAID acknowledged its contract suspension officer also headed its acquisition office, which was prohibited by a provision in the 2013 NDAA.

In August, a federal judge ruled that USAID needed go further than the reversal and also fairly consider IRD for new awards and retract the findings the suspension was based on.

In her letter, McCaskill asked for a briefing as soon as possible on USAID’s compliance with the 2013 NDAA's provision now. She also wrote that she wants to know what IRD’s responsibility has been since the suspension was reversed.