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Royce, Engel, and Ros-Lehtinen Release GAO Report Documenting Failings in U.S. Assistance for Haiti Reconstruction

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Today, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Committee's Ranking Member, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and Chairman Emeritus, released an alarming Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that documents serious delays and lack of oversight in United States Agency for International Development (USAID) assistance efforts in Haiti, following the devastating January 2010 earthquake.

Months after the earthquake, Congress provided $1.6 billion in reconstruction funding for Haiti in the 2010 Supplemental Appropriations Act -- $651 million of which went to USAID and is the subject of the GAO report.

Ros-Lehtinen said: "I requested this report one year ago with then Ranking Member Howard Berman in order to examine if funds managed by USAID and State were not fulfilling the objectives of our mission in Haiti. This GAO report is alarming and showcases the need to further investigate and ensure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are not being wasted or abused in Haiti. We have a responsibility and commitment to our nation as the largest donor and the people of Haiti to help build stable institutions, root out corruption, and help those that were devastated by the earthquake in 2010."

Engel said: "This report shows a significant and sobering disconnect between what was originally promised for the Haitian people, and what it appears USAID is now prepared to deliver. The Haitian people, as well as the US taxpayer, deserve better answers about our assistance than we have received to date."

Royce said: "I commend Ranking Member Engel and Chairman Emeritus Ros-Lehtinen for their focus on Haiti oversight. A delegation of bipartisan Committee staff will soon be visiting Haiti to prepare for an upcoming hearing on these troubling findings."

Included in the GAO's findings:

* Housing: USAID's 2010 housing plans have been downscaled by an astonishing 80 percent. Of the 15,000 houses originally planned, today only 2,649 are expected to be built.

* Trade: A port facility planned as an integral part of an industrial project was expected to be completed by 2015. Yet today, there is no firm date set to begin construction; if and when that happens, it could take as long as 10 years to complete.

* Oversight: Reporting to Congress has been inadequate for proper oversight or even a realistic picture of what the U.S. assistance program is achieving.


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