State Dept. Awarded $461M In No-Strings-Attached Middle East Grants

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Department of State officials can’t say if any of the $461 million in Middle Eastern economic and social development grants they awarded worked because they failed to include metrics for determining success and failure, according to a new State Department Office of Inspector General (IG) report.

“Although the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) cited anecdotal successes for the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) program, it could not provide systematic evidence of MEPI’s success or provide useful information to decision-makers managing the multimillion-dollar program,” the IG said.

State Department officials “measured outputs — the amount of services provided — rather than outcomes, which measure the effectiveness of a program” in 30 of the awards reviewed by the IG.

One measured output tracked the number of laws or amendments drafted to ensure integrity in elections but didn’t measure whether the unnamed country adopted them, according to the IG. (RELATED: Hillary’s State Department Wasted $620 Million On Failed Projects)

Staff members of NEA also failed to set up required monitoring plans for awards or site visits. NEA managed 400 MEPI awards worth $461.3 million during fiscal years 2013 and 2014, with the funding going to both government and non-government organizations for projects intended to boost political, economic and social reform.

Republican President-elect Donald Trump has floated former Massachusetts governor and former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to replace John Kerry as secretary of state. The next secretary will have to deal with the State Department’s persistent problems tracking the effectiveness of overseas funding.

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