Oops: State Department Did Not Properly Account For $16 Billion

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JP Carroll National Security & Foreign Affairs Reporter
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The U.S. Department of State did not disclose $16 billion from foreign aid disbursements and foreign aid obligations in 2014.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published in late August for U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, highlights the disastrous record-keeping of the State Department. The damning GAO report stated, “The absence of clear information on data limitations may undermine the goal of ForeignAssistance.gov to improve public knowledge and accountability of U.S. foreign assistance.”

Twenty-six percent of its foreign aid disbursements and 14 percent of its foreign aid obligations in 2014 were not disclosed.

GAO found that the two websites that deal with foreign aid matters, ForeignAssistance.gov and Foreign Aid Explorer, explorer.usaid.gov, were reporting very different numbers for U.S. foreign aid. The discrepancies were in the billions for fiscal year 2014. ForeignAssistance.gov listed $36.1 billion in foreign aid obligations, totaling $6 billion less than the $42 billion listed on Foreign Aid Explorer. Shoddy math reared its ugly head again when ForeignAssistance.gov reported $29.9 billion in aid disbursements, in contrast with the $40.4 billion stated on Foreign Aid Explorer, a $10 billion reporting difference.

According to the GAO, in response to the troubling findings, State Department told them that the differences highlighted by GAO in part stem from peacekeeping and U.S. funding for international organizations not being taken into consideration for FY2014 data in ForeignAssistance.gov. As for the $10 billion accounting error in the Foreign Aid Explorer, State defended it, reportedly informing GAO that the data is more detailed because it goes through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), after being sent in by State Departments’s individual bureaus.

The billions at stake which State Department must account for include the money of 10 different agencies that contribute most of the foreign aid.

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