U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement after releasing a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on U.S. assistance for reconstruction efforts in Haiti, which reveals a troubling lack of progress and accountability over reconstruction efforts by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) over the past three years since the 2010 earthquake. Some of the findings of the report include:
- Regarding shelters, USAID's 2010 housing plans have been downscaled by 80 percent. Of the 15,000 houses originally planned, today only 2649 are expected to be built. Whereas originally USAID sought to house up to 90,000 Haitians, today we expect that approximately only 16,000 people will benefit;
- A port facility planned as an integral part of an industrial project was expected to be completed by 2015. Based on the report, there are no firm dates to begin construction; if and when that happens, it could take as long as 10 years to complete;
- Reporting to Congress has been inadequate for proper oversight over the goals and objectives of our assistance programs.
- The USAID mission in Haiti lacks staff with technical expertise in planning, construction, and oversight of a port, as there is a vacant position for a port engineer on staff.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"I'm deeply concerned about the findings of the most recent GAO report on U.S. assistance for reconstruction efforts in Haiti. More than three years after the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010, we find that much of the assistance that the U.S. has provided Haiti for reconstruction efforts has suffered from ineffective stewardship on the part of USAID. This level of performance is unacceptable, and the people of Haiti deserve better.
"The people of Haiti have suffered greatly and remain in great need of our assistance, so I urge this Administration to ensure that our reconstruction efforts bring about the positive results that are intended. A key finding of this report is the lack of forthcoming information from State and USAID officials regarding the inadequate use of U.S. taxpayer dollars. It is imperative that programs supported by U.S. taxpayers receive the appropriate oversight and accountability in order to achieve maximum results."
Note: One June 22, 2012, Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and then Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA) of the House Foreign Affairs Committee requested the Government Accountability Office to investigate reconstruction efforts in Haiti, specifically pertaining to shelters and development of the surrounding areas of the Caracol Industrial Park in Cap-Haitien, Haiti.