US audit finds flaws in Haiti health care programs
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — A U.S. government audit of Haiti health care projects financed by Washington has found many of them to be significantly behind schedule, a report said Monday.
The projects aimed to improve the health and nutrition of Haitians in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake. This meant reinforcing the physical infrastructure of several health facilities, building three medical supply warehouses, and rebuilding a state university teaching hospital and a separate campus.
Instead, the audit by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s inspector general found “limited progress,” citing a delay in the construction of the health facilities and little completion among projects.
A medical supply warehouse, for example, was to be built by June 2012, along with several hospitals and other facilities by December 2015, at a cost of $99 million. But as of December, USAID had set aside only $17.3 million and spent $8.2 million. Construction on the major projects had not begun, the audit said.
USAID officials say they welcome such reports because they show where improvement is needed. In the audit, USAID officials wrote that they agreed with all seven recommendations, which include a need for the agency to develop a staffing plan.
The audit attributed the delays to several factors, including a dearth of qualified personnel and the vacancy of a mission director for 13 months. From June 2011 to August 2012, for example, the mission did not have an engineer or contract specialist working full-time in its office.
The Haiti mission also struggled to attract qualified USAID engineers and had been trying since 2011 to hire a senior USAID engineer.
The audit also said the mission doesn’t have policies and procedures in place to manage construction and infrastructure projects in Haiti, with plans instead put together on an ad hoc basis.
The report from USAID’s inspector general is the second in as many weeks that reveal shortcomings in the U.S. government’s reconstruction effort in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake.