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Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008--Continued

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Location: Washington, DC


DEPARTMENT OF STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS, AND RELATED PROGRAMS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008--Continued -- (Senate - September 06, 2007)

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

AMENDMENTS NOS. 2704, 2705, 2706, AND 2716

Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I call up en bloc amendments Nos. 2704, 2705, 2706, and 2716.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?

Without objection, it is so ordered.

The clerk will report.

The assistant legislative clerk read as follows:

The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. Coburn] proposes en bloc amendments numbered 2704, 2705, 2706, and 2716.

Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendments be dispensed with.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The amendments are as follows:

AMENDMENT NO. 2704
(Purpose: To provide that none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act for ``Contribution to the International Development Association'' may be made available for the World Bank for malaria control or prevention programs)

At the appropriate place, insert the following:

Sec. __. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act for multilateral economic assistance under the heading ``CONTRIBUTION TO THE INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION'' may be made available for the World Bank for malaria control or prevention programs.

AMENDMENT NO. 2705
(Purpose: To provide for the spending of $106,763,000 on programs that save children's lives, such as the President's Malaria Initiative, rather than lower priority programs, such as the Global Environment Facility, which produce few results and are managed by the United Nations Development Program, which utilizes corrupt procurement practices, operates contrary to United Nations rules, and retaliates against whistleblowers)

On page 410, between lines 15 and 16, insert the following:

SAVING CHILDREN'S LIVES

Sec. 699B. (a) The amount appropriated or otherwise made available by title III for bilateral economic assistance under the heading ``GLOBAL HEALTH PROGRAMS'' and available for child survival and maternal health is hereby increased by $76,763,000.

(b) The amount appropriated or otherwise made available by title III for bilateral economic assistance under the heading ``GLOBAL HEALTH PROGRAMS'' for other infectious diseases and available for the President's Malaria Initiative is hereby increased by $30,000,000.

(c) The amount appropriated or otherwise made available by title V under the heading ``GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY'' is hereby reduced by $106,763,000.

AMENDMENT NO. 2706
(Purpose: To ensure full public transparency and fiscal accountability at the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria)

On page 311, strike lines 20 through 22 and insert the following:

(6) has adopted and is implementing a policy to publish on a publicly available web site all program reviews, program evaluations, internally and externally commissioned audits, and inspector general reports and findings, not later than 7 days after they are received by the Global Fund Secretariat, except that such information as determined necessary by the Inspector General to protect the identity of whistleblowers or other informants to investigations and reports of the Inspector General, or proprietary information, may be redacted from such documents; and

AMENDMENT NO. 2716
(Purpose: To provide for the spending of $106,763,000 on programs that save children's lives, such as the President's Malaria Initiative, rather than lower priority programs, such as the Global Environment Facility, which produce few results and are managed by the United Nations Development Program, which utilizes corrupt procurement practices, operates contrary to United Nations rules, and retaliates against whistleblowers)

On page 410, between lines 15 and 16, insert the following:

SAVING CHILDREN'S LIVES

Sec. 699B. (a) The amount appropriated or otherwise made available by title III for bilateral economic assistance under the heading ``GLOBAL HEALTH PROGRAMS'' and available for child survival and maternal health is hereby increased by $48,763,000.

(b) The amount appropriated or otherwise made available by title III for bilateral economic assistance under the heading ``GLOBAL HEALTH PROGRAMS'' for other infectious diseases and available for the President's Malaria Initiative is hereby increased by $30,000,000.

(c) The amount appropriated or otherwise made available by title V under the heading ``GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY'' is hereby reduced by $106,763,000.

Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I have three amendments that I will discuss in a group, and I believe one of them will be accepted by the majority and ranking member, and that is an amendment creating transparency at the World Bank on the malaria program. I will spend a very short time talking about that.

What we know is we have seen in the last 2 1/2 years a tremendous change--much of it thanks to the chairman of this committee in terms of transparency and in working with us on the malaria program--but we have seen a change from using the wrong medicines, the wrong techniques, and the wrong prevention techniques. We have 2 million people a year in Africa die from a preventable, curable, treatable disease.

Not long after I came to the Senate, myself along with Norm Coleman and other people who have done great work--and Senator Brownback as well--on malaria, as well as the chairman, what we saw was an ineffective program. The President had a malaria initiative--PMI--and it was set out and peer-reviewed--scientific data to approach this disease from both prevention and treatment. What we saw at the World Bank was a failed $500 million program and an attempt at another program for which there is no transparency. But the reports from the scientific literature Lancet, the greatest medical periodical from the British, had a devastating article outlining the fact that the World Bank continues to use drugs that don't treat, drugs that have resistance, it does not do preventive indoor spraying, does not distribute on a free basis bed netting--the three significant, consistent ways in which we treat African malaria, as well as the way we treat it throughout the rest of the world.

So I want to thank them in advance for doing that. This simply says that the World Bank has to be transparent with what they are doing on malaria.

What we know is the World Health Organization has also changed significantly. We are going to see hundreds of millions of people's lives markedly changed through an appropriate drug treatment prevention strategy for malaria. Of those 2 million people who die every year, 500 million of them are 5 years of age and under--I mean 500,000. Five hundred thousand are pregnant women. There are another 500,000 children who are permanently brain damaged from malaria. If we are going to help in foreign aid, then it ought to be effective foreign aid. So I thank the chairman and ranking member for their consideration on that.

The next amendment I would like to bring up talks about having some transparency with the $5.3 billion we send to the United Nations every year. This body, as well as the House, unanimously passed transparency and accountability for our own Government and our own agencies. We are going to see this next January where everything in this country where the taxpayers' money is spent is going to be online and available for taxpayers, peer-reviewed looks, watchdog groups, as well as the press to see how we are spending money.

What this amendment does is it ensures that the U.S. contribution to the United Nations is not being wasted to fraud, which we have seen multiple times at the United Nations--waste, abuse, corruption, which we have seen and which has been documented--by maximizing the public transparency of all U.N. spending or our contribution thereof. This amendment says that the Secretary of State certify publicly that the United Nations is publicly transparent about its spending this year, before any of the money we are going to send to the United Nations next year is sent. The basic transparency required by this amendment would include a posting on a publicly available Web site of copies of all contracts, grants, program reviews, audits, budgets, and progress reports relating to fiscal year 2007.

There are a lot of reasons the U.N. should be accountable and transparent, the first of which--and I won't go into a lot of details--is the Oil for Food Program where $10 billion was mismanaged, stolen, and fraudulently used in a way that was totally unaccountable, to the detriment of the people of Iraq. As of this time, there have been eight guilty pleas, two guilty verdicts, two agreements of forfeiture judgments, and nine pending cases. There are also fugitives from the corruption of that.

The U.N. to this day refuses to fully and publicly release the Oil for Food Program's contracts and financial documents. Some people will say: Well, you can't force this on the U.N.

(Mrs. BOXER assumed the Chair.)

Mr. COBURN. There is not an accountability that we can require.

We are the largest contributor to the United Nations. We have a requirement and a responsibility to the people of this country to make sure that money is well spent. The easiest way to make sure money is well spent and properly spent is for it to be transparent and available to the people who are making these contributions.

The second reason we should be concerned about how the U.N. spends money is procurement fraud. Last year, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton testified to the Federal Financial Management Subcommittee that of the $1 billion in U.N. peacekeeping contracts that were audited--they didn't audit all of them but just the first $1 billion that they audited--a third was found to be lost to waste and fraud and corruption. The U.N. refused to release this audit, even to Secretary Bolton, our representative at the U.N; however, he was able to secure a leaked copy of it. What that $1 billion represents in terms of waste, fraud, and abuse is our entire contribution to peacekeeping. For all the money we pay for worldwide peacekeeping through the U.N., what we can extrapolate from this audit is that our entire contribution was wasted.

There is an even more worrisome program at the U.N. called the United Nations Development Program. What we know over the last 10 years is that over $100 million has been funneled inappropriately, fraudulently, and without any oversight to North Korea for things which it should not have gone. Ten million dollars, at least, was transferred in cash directly to the leaders of the North Korean regime. We know some of that cash was used to purchase homes in Europe and Canada. The Chicago Tribune reported there was evidence that they deposited cash into the same account that North Korea used to buy ballistic missiles. The United Nations Development Program refuses to allow our own investigators from our own Government to audit and review its financial information. It refuses, despite the United States sitting on the UNDP Executive Board and being the largest contributor to the UNDP budget.

Basic transparency--the idea that we give money and they spend money to accomplish good in the world--can only be effective if we know where the money is spent and how it is spent. The idea to have the U.N. transparent will protect against future scandals.

One of the things that bothers me the most about this and our contribution is the fact that the U.N. refuses to be transparent with the money we give them. Every domestic agency, every government program in this country is required to provide this body detailed financial information, program reviews, audits, and budgets. According to OMB, we spend an excessive $5.3 billion of the taxpayers' money on the United Nations, but despite repeated
requests by Ambassador Bolton, by congressional committees, by oversight committees, by committees on investigation, the U.N. refuses to make available information as to how it spends its money, make its audits available, program reviews available, or any other financial data available to the Congress or the world at large or the public in this country.

The only way we have been able to find out what we have been able to find out is that documents have been leaked. This amendment matters. The reason it matters is that every dollar lost to U.N. corruption is one less dollar that can save the life of an African child, one more dollar that could efficiently prevent violence around the world. Just in what we know on UNDP waste and fraud last year, 20,000 lives could have been saved in Africa from HIV. Or take the country of Uganda, plagued by civil war, and epidemics, and other things; according to the World Bank, their whole GDP was less than what we have wasted.

Think about the impact we could have. Some will say the U.N. has a procurement Web site where information on all contracts that are granted is posted. They didn't have that until 2 1/2 years ago when we started pushing. It only shows a very small percentage of moneys. It is not thorough or comprehensive. It is controlled by the U.N. Secretariat and not all the other agencies under the U.N. So we don't get a look at how our money is spent at the U.N.

This is an amendment that has real teeth. This says what is good for our country in terms of how we spend our money, making it publicly available and transparent to hold us accountable, ought to apply to the U.N.

Madam President, I will talk for a moment about amendment No. 2716. This is a straightforward amendment that moves money around in this appropriations bill. I think we can make a great case for why we ought to do it. What this amendment does is divide and take away money from the global environment facility, which is run by the World Bank but managed by the United Nations, which has been found to be totally failing in both what it is trying to accomplish and also measuring the results of what it accomplishes. We redirect that money into the President's malaria initiative--$30 million--to bring it up to what they requested. It is a highly successful program that is done right. It is one of our best foreign programs. It has metrics, measurements, accountability, and results-based, oriented goals that can be measured and quantified. It takes and puts the remainder of that money, $76.67 million, into other lifesaving programs in the child survival and maternal health programs, the global environment facilities in the World Bank, administered by the UNDP, for which grants and contracts are awarded for the purpose of addressing or preventing harm caused by manmade climate change.

The Office of Management and Budget has audited or looked at this, and there are no results they can demonstrate; there is no direction in terms of the grants or no evaluation of the grants. They said it is failing to prevent any environmental damage, based on what they have seen. It hasn't mitigated any that are already there. It agreed with the United States in 2002 to implement performance guidelines. It agreed to those. Yet it has done nothing in the last 5 years to meet the required agreement with our Government. It doesn't allocate its funds based on performance or environmental benefit. In other words, there is no relationship between getting the result and the money that was spent. It lacks any significant anticorruption guidelines. We know it is there as well. Yet they refuse to agree to these things our Government has asked for. It is another mismanaged program by the UNDP.

What does the effect of moving this money to other areas mean? What we know is that, with the President's malaria initiative, we are fast on our way to solving this dread disease in Africa, this preventable disease in Africa. We are gearing up the focus countries with a plan to expand that. By not funding this at the expected level, or the level that was requested, it means two or three more countries are not going to have the right drugs for malaria. They are not going to have the residual training. They are not going to have the trained staff with which to do that properly. We are not going to have long-term bed netting available for all these families, which is more important. Two million people in Africa are dying from malaria or an ineffective program that is not accomplishing its goals even though it has a great name?

This amendment simply moves the money around to a way in which we help children, help refugees, and we help fight the battle against malaria in Africa. I hoped the President's malaria initiative would have been fully funded. This will fund it and allow us to expand the most successful foreign aid program we have, in terms of fighting disease. I hope we have consideration of that amendment. I will ask for a vote if it is not going to be accepted by the chairman and ranking member.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, the next amendment I want to spend some time on has been in the news of late. The Global Fund initiative has been a very important tool in terms of fighting HIV, TB, and malaria, which are the three significant diseases around the world that are limiting progress, health, life, and sustainability for many people throughout the world.

What this amendment does is eliminate the secrecy of the operation of that group. I am not highly critical of discretionary spending to accomplish a goal, but I am highly critical of not having transparency on where money goes. We can do that in a way that protects whistleblowers and in a way that satisfies the American public that if we are going to send their money overseas, we know exactly what it is spent on and how it is spent.

This is a very simple amendment. It conditions 20 percent of our contributions to the Global Fund, which is significant, on certification by the Secretary of State that the Global Fund has made all the financial and programmatic documents available to the public on a Web site. That says if you are going to spend $100 million on a drug, put it on a Web site and say whether you competitively bid it, and here is what we paid for it. If you paid a consultant, say here is how much we paid them for it. It is the American taxpayers' money.

I think it is significant that the total amount of money contributed to date for the Global Fund, which I support, has been $2.9 billion. If we follow both what the committee or the Senate happened to do, we are going to have that above $6 billion at the end of next year; $6 billion is a significant amount of money. What the global fund says is they have an Inspector General and that we don't need this. The problem is that Inspector General reports are good only if the people who have decisionmaking capability on the funding get to see those reports. The board at the Global Fund doesn't even get to see the reports. As a matter of fact, the IG of the Global Fund recently retired over the controversy of his IG report that was very critical of the management of the Global Fund.

The answer to accountability is transparency in what we do. This is a straightforward amendment that conditions only 20 percent of the money--less than the increase of what we will be funding with the Global Fund--by saying you have to become transparent, you have to become accountable, and it has to be accessible. It is simple. We will get better value for the dollars we contribute to the Global Fund if, in fact, we adopt this amendment.

The other thing that will happen is more people will have lifesaving treatments or preventive strategies applied to them if we have transparency and accountability.

All of the amendments we have talked about today are essentially about transparency. It is about if we are going to send American money into foreign places through independent agencies, separate from our own Government, we ought to know how that money is spent. It is straightforward. All of us would do the same thing as we give our money--we look at church budgets and we look at nonprofits' budgets when we contribute to them, and we find out how they are spending their money. We have independent reporting in this country on nonprofits on how they spend money and how much percentage on overhead and whether they waste money. So all these amendments are about accountability--accountability through transparency. I admit they have some teeth. But we are not going to be accountable for the American taxpayers' dollars unless we apply enough pressure to get transparency so we know where the American taxpayers' dollars are going.

I also want to submit for the Record a copy of a whistleblower conversation at UNDP, associated with one of the other amendments. I ask unanimous consent that it be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. COBURN. This outlines the fact that in the Global Fund, UNDP has true corruption in terms of directing how the money is spent to their friends, not the people who can actually do the work or not those who are best suited for the work, but rather at the whim of a friend of somebody working at UNDP. It is very revealing.

What is even more revealing is that UNDP refused to accept a U.N. ethics office and so, therefore, the whistleblower at UNDP doesn't even have the protections of other people at the United Nations. So we have an individual who was doing a great job, but because he reported and refused to send money to somebody not capable of doing a job, not capable of performing with a good portion of our taxpayers' money, he gets fired. That is the kind of transparency we need to have at the UNDP and at the Global Fund.

It is my hope the Members of this body will seriously consider that we ought to be applying the same standards to where we send money outside of our Government that we are now applying to our Government. It is my hope that I will have the consideration of the ranking member and the chairman in supporting these amendments.

AMENDMENT NO. 2705 WITHDRAWN

AMENDMENT NO. 2773

I ask unanimous consent to withdraw amendment No. 2705 and call up amendment No. 2773. Amendment No. 2705 is one of the en bloc amendments and it is the wrong number. I wish to replace it with amendment No. 2773.


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