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Report to Congressional Committees: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO: 

September 2009: 

International Food Assistance: 

Key Issues for Congressional Oversight: 

GAO-09-977SP: 

Contents: 

Letter: 

Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology: 

Appendix II: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

Related GAO Products: 

Figures: 

Figure 1: Trends in U.S. Food Aid, Fiscal Years 2001 to 2008: 

Figure 2: Cost Comparison of WFP Local Procurement and U.S. In-kind 
Food Aid by Region, 2001 to 2008, and Average of Median Delivery Times 
for 10 Recipient Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2004 to 2008: 

[End of section] 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

September 30, 2009: 

Congressional Committees: 

The number of individuals experiencing hunger has grown to more than 1 
billion worldwide in 2009, up from a record 963 million in 2008, 
according to the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization 
(FAO). FAO attributes this upsurge in hunger to the global economic 
crisis, which followed rising food and fuel prices from 2006 to 2008. 
However, even before these crises, the number of undernourished 
[Footnote 1] people had been increasing annually in sub-Saharan Africa--
where some of the world's food needs are greatest--underscoring the 
need to improve international food assistance. 

International food assistance includes both emergency food aid and long-
term food security programs. Due to rising food prices, increasing 
conflicts, poverty, and natural disasters, in 2007, a record 47 
countries--27 located in Africa--faced food crises requiring emergency 
assistance, according to FAO.[Footnote 2] To address these emergencies, 
countries provide food aid as part of a humanitarian response to 
address acute hunger through either in-kind donations of food or cash 
donations. In-kind food aid is food procured and delivered to 
vulnerable populations, while cash donations are given to implementing 
organizations, such as the UN World Food Program (WFP), to procure food 
in local and regional markets, also referred to as local and regional 
procurement (LRP). International food assistance also includes a 
development-focused response to address long-term chronic hunger 
through food security programs.[Footnote 3] While food aid has helped 
to address the immediate nutritional requirements of some vulnerable 
people in the short term, it has not addressed the underlying causes of 
persistent food insecurity. 

As the largest donor to international food assistance, contributing 
over half of all food aid supplies to alleviate hunger and support 
development, the United States plays an important role in responding to 
emergency food aid needs and ensuring global food security. However, 
GAO has previously reported that U.S. agencies' efforts to reduce 
global food insecurity[Footnote 4] in sub-Saharan Africa have been 
fragmented and uncoordinated.[Footnote 5] For decades, the U.S. 
government has set goals to improve the effectiveness of U.S. food aid 
by reaching global targets for reducing hunger, malnutrition, and 
poverty.[Footnote 6] Global targets were set at the 1996 World Food 
Summit and reaffirmed in 2000 with the Millennium Development Goals, 
when the United States and more than 180 world leaders pledged to halve 
the total number and proportion of undernourished people reported 
worldwide from the 1990 level by 2015. 

The U.S. administration continues to commit to international food 
assistance by pledging U.S. leadership in developing a new global 
approach to hunger and the Secretary of State has emphasized the 
importance of a comprehensive approach to sustainable systems of 
agriculture in rural areas worldwide. In July 2009, the United States 
and assembled leaders at the Group of 8 (G8) Summit in L'Aquila, Italy, 
agreed to a $20 billion, 3-year commitment to increasing food 
security.[Footnote 7] The U.S. share of this commitment, or $3.35 
billion, includes $1.36 billion for agriculture and related programming 
to establish food security in fiscal year 2010, representing more than 
double the fiscal year 2009 budget request level. 

Enclosed are a series of papers highlighting key issues to assist in 
developing this new global approach to hunger and to help shape 
oversight agendas to evaluate these efforts. Our objectives were to (1) 
update U.S. agencies' responses to GAO's previous international food 
assistance recommendations and (2) identify potential oversight 
questions for congressional consideration. Since 1996, we have 
published 18 products that provided insight, many with recommendations, 
on international food assistance. Specifically, in the past 3 years, we 
issued four reports with 16 recommendations to improve the efficiency 
of U.S. food aid and food security programs.[Footnote 8] Over the 
course of our work, we also identified improvements that were needed, 
as well as obstacles that affect the success of program planning and 
implementation. As a result, we have identified five issues for 
Congressional consideration to ensure more efficient and effective 
international food assistance: (1) coordination and integration, (2) 
needs assessments and market information, (3) transportation and 
logistics, (4) nutrition and food quality control, and (5) monitoring 
and evaluation. 

* Coordination and integration: In 2007 and 2008, we reported a lack of 
coordination and integration among food aid stakeholders. In 2007, we 
reported that U.S. food aid is funded under four program authorities 
and delivered through six programs administered by the U.S. Agency for 
International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture (USDA). The programs serve a range of objectives, including 
humanitarian goals, economic assistance, foreign policy, market 
development, and international trade.[Footnote 9] We found inadequate 
coordination between U.S. agencies in tracking and responding to food 
delivery problems. In 2008, we found that interventions designed to 
mitigate the factors that contribute to food insecurity--such as low 
agricultural productivity, limited rural development, government policy 
disincentives, and poor health--have been fragmented and uncoordinated 
across the U.S. government.[Footnote 10] For example, the U.S. 
Presidential Initiative to End Hunger in Africa was limited to USAID 
programs, although it purported to be a governmentwide strategy. 
[Footnote 11] As a result, we made two recommendations to the 
Administrator of USAID: (1) develop an integrated governmentwide U.S. 
strategy for achieving food security in sub-Saharan Africa that 
includes improved collaboration with host governments and other donors 
and (2) report to Congress annually on the progress of implementing 
this strategy. Although U.S. agencies have met regularly to develop a 
governmentwide food security strategy, the strategy has yet to be 
published and reporting on its status is premature. 

* Needs assessments and market information: Ensuring that food aid 
reaches the most vulnerable populations is critical to enhancing its 
effectiveness. Emergency needs assessments include analyses of various 
factors, among them the effects of the crisis on vulnerable 
populations, strategies used by these populations to deal with the 
crisis, and its impact in terms of food insecurity. They are usually 
carried out as a joint effort by several organizations, including FAO, 
WFP, and nongovernmental organizations (NGO), in response to a request 
from the government of an affected country. In 2007, we found that 
estimates of emergency food needs have differed significantly and, in 
some cases, have resulted in delays in appropriately responding to 
crises with sufficient food and complementary assistance.[Footnote 12] 
In 2009, we also found that unreliable market information and poorly 
functioning or unintegrated markets can cause adverse impacts on local 
or regional markets where food aid is purchased.[Footnote 13] 
Therefore, we made recommendations to (1) enhance the reliability and 
use of needs assessments, (2) determine ways to provide adequate 
nonfood resources when it will enhance the effectiveness of U.S. food 
aid, and (3) improve market information collected in areas where U.S.- 
funded LRP occurs. Although U.S. agencies have addressed the first two 
recommendations with new guidelines, it is too soon to tell how plans 
to address the third recommendation will be implemented. 

* Transportation and logistics: In 2007, we reported on U.S. food aid 
and highlighted several inefficient logistical planning and 
transportation practices.[Footnote 14] Specifically, we noted that 
despite growing demand for food aid, rising business and transportation 
costs contributed to a 52 percent decline in average tonnage delivered 
from 2001 to 2006. With the addition of 2007 and 2008 data, more recent 
trends indicate that, despite increases in U.S. funding for 
emergencies, the tonnage of food aid delivered continues to decline. 
From 2006 to 2008, U.S. food aid funding increased by nearly 53 
percent, while tonnage delivered fell by 5 percent over that time 
period (see figure 1). 

Figure 1: Trends in U.S. Food Aid, Fiscal Years 2001 to 2008: 

[Refer to PDF for image: line graph] 

Year: 2001; 
Program funding (U.S. dollars in millions: $2,323; 
Metric tons of food aid delivered (in thousands): 6,406. 

Year: 2002; 
Major emergencies: Afghanistan and Southern Africa; 
Program funding (U.S. dollars in millions: $2,223; 
Metric tons of food aid delivered (in thousands): 4,933. 

Year: 2003; 
Major emergencies: Iraq; 
Program funding (U.S. dollars in millions: $2,714; 
Metric tons of food aid delivered (in thousands): 5,048. 

Year: 2004; 
Program funding (U.S. dollars in millions: $2,106; 
Metric tons of food aid delivered (in thousands): 3,687. 

Year: 2005; 
Major emergencies: Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea; 
Program funding (U.S. dollars in millions: $2,371; 
Metric tons of food aid delivered (in thousands): 4,062. 

Year: 2006; 
Major emergencies: Sudan and Horn of Africa; 
Program funding (U.S. dollars in millions: $1,894; 
Metric tons of food aid delivered (in thousands): 3,081. 

Year: 2007; 
Program funding (U.S. dollars in millions: $2,129; 
Metric tons of food aid delivered (in thousands): 2,510. 

Year: 2008; 
Major emergencies: Global food price crisis; 
Program funding (U.S. dollars in millions: $2,891; 
Metric tons of food aid delivered (in thousands): 2,938. 

Source: GAO analysis of USAID and USDA data. 

[End of figure] 

In 2009, we determined that LRP is generally more cost-effective and 
timely than U.S. in-kind food aid (see fig. 2).[Footnote 15] However, 
certain legal requirements for U.S. food aid, such as the requirement 
to procure only U.S.-grown agricultural commodities and to transport 
those commodities on U.S.-flag vessels, known as "cargo preference," 
may constrain U.S. agencies' use of LRP. Therefore, we made the 
following recommendations: (1) improve food aid logistical planning 
through cost-benefit analysis, (2) work with stakeholders to modernize 
ocean transportation and contracting practices, (3) update 
implementation and reimbursement methodologies for transportation of 
U.S. food aid, and (4) update the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) 
between U.S. food assistance agencies and the Department of 
Transportation (DOT) to minimize the cost of cargo preference 
regulations and resolve uncertainties associated with the application 
of cargo preference requirements to regional food procurement. Although 
USAID, USDA, and DOT have made significant inroads to improving 
logistical planning and modernizing ocean transportation and 
contracting practices, DOT has not updated its regulations pertaining 
to cargo preference, and the agencies have not signed a comprehensive 
MOU that addresses our concerns as recommended. 

Figure 2: Cost Comparison of WFP Local Procurement and U.S. In-kind 
Food Aid by Region, 2001 to 2008, and Average of Median Delivery Times 
for 10 Recipient Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2004 to 2008: 

[See PDF for image: illustration and horizontal bar graph] 

Average cost differential (percentage by which the cost of U.S. in-kind 
food aid differs from the cost of local procurement): 
Worldwide: 25% more; 
Sub-Saharan Africa: 34% more; 
Asia: 29% more; 
Latin America: 2% less. 

Average median delivery time[A] for 10 countries in sub-Saharan 
Africa[B]: 

In-kind donations (international): 
Time in days (in-kind donations): 147. 

Cash donations: International: 
Time (cash donations): 91; 
Time saved (cash donations): 56. 

Cash donations: Regional: 
Time (cash donations): 41; 
Time saved (cash donations): 106. 

Cash donations: Local: 
Time (cash donations): 35; 
Time saved (cash donations): 112. 

Source: GAO analysis of USAID and WFP data. 

[A] Time elapsed between the purchase order date and the date WFP takes 
possession of the food in the recipient country. Additional time is 
required for the food to reach intended beneficiaries. 

[B] The 10 recipient countries are Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of 
Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and 
Zimbabwe. 

[End of figure] 

* Nutrition and food quality control:[Footnote 16] In 2007, we reported 
that although U.S. agencies had made efforts to improve the nutritional 
quality of food aid, the appropriate nutritional value of the food and 
the readiness of U.S. agencies to address nutrition-related quality 
issues remained uncertain.[Footnote 17] We also found that some 
impediments to improving the nutritional quality of U.S. food aid 
prevented the most nutritious or appropriate food from reaching 
intended recipients. In 2009, we reported on concerns about the quality 
of food procured in developing countries and adherence to certain 
product specifications.[Footnote 18] As a result, we recommended that 
USAID and USDA (1) establish a coordinated system for tracking and 
resolving food quality complaints; (2) develop an interagency mechanism 
to update food aid specifications and products; and (3) collect 
evidence on LRP's adherence to quality standards and product 
specifications. Although USAID and USDA have established a commodity 
quality "feedback loop" to resolve food quality complaints and both 
agencies have commissioned studies on food aid specifications, they 
have not yet initiated plans to collect evidence on LRP adherence to 
quality standards. 

* Monitoring and evaluation: Monitoring and evaluation are critical 
oversight and program management tools that could help ensure that 
strategic objectives and intermediate goals of international food 
assistance programs are met. In 2007, we found that USAID and USDA did 
not sufficiently monitor food aid programs.[Footnote 19] In September 
2009, we determined that USAID lacks a comprehensive plan for 
monitoring and evaluating nonemergency food aid.[Footnote 20] We also 
found that while USAID's Office of Food for Peace has initiated an 
upgrade of its information technology system, its plans lack a concept 
of operations document that communicates overall system 
characteristics. As a result, we recommended that USAID and USDA (1) 
develop an information collection system to track monetization 
transactions[Footnote 21] and (2) improve monitoring of food aid to 
ensure proper management and implementation. In addition, we 
recommended that USAID (3) develop a concept of operations document to 
help reduce the risks associated with upgrading the Office of Food for 
Peace's information technology system and (4) develop an integrated 
monitoring and evaluation plan that links monitoring and evaluation to 
key USAID goals, establishes a systematic process for determining 
appropriate budget levels and staff resources, examines all available 
funding options, and establishes time frames for implementing and 
evaluating the plan. Although USAID and USDA have addressed the first 
two recommendations by developing an information collection system to 
monitor food aid and monetization transactions, most of USAID's planned 
monitoring and evaluation actions are still in progress and it is too 
early to assess their impact. 

The issues discussed in the five enclosures--accompanied by potential 
oversight questions--are based on completed and ongoing GAO work on 
international food assistance. This report also expands on the issues 
discussed on GAO's transition Web site at [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/media/video/gao-09-294sp]. We obtained information 
for this report from agency documents and interviews with agency 
officials in Washington, D.C., including USAID and the Departments of 
Agriculture, State, and Transportation. Appendix I contains additional 
details about our scope and methodology. We conducted our work from 
June 2009 to September 2009. The work on which this report is based was 
conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing 
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit 
to obtain sufficient and appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable 
basis for our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 
We believe that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for 
our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

USAID and the Departments of Agriculture and Transportation provided 
technical comments on a draft of this report, which have been 
incorporated as appropriate. We are sending copies of this report to 
the congressional committees listed below. In addition, we are sending 
copies of this report to the President and Vice President of the United 
States, and executive branch agencies. The report also is available at 
no charge on the GAO Web site at [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov]. A 
list of related GAO products appears at the end of this report. 

If you or your staffs have any questions about this report, please 
contact Thomas Melito at (202) 512-9601 or melitot@gao.gov. Contact 
points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs 
can be found on the last page of this report. For press inquiries, 
please contact Chuck Young at (202) 512-4800. 

GAO staff who made key contributions are listed in appendix II. 

Signed by: 

Jacquelyn L. Williams-Bridgers: 
Managing Director: 
International Affairs and Trade: 

Enclosures: 

List of committees: 

The Honorable Blanche Lambert Lincoln:
Chair:
The Honorable Saxby Chambliss:
Ranking Member:
Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry:
United States Senate: 

The Honorable John F. Kerry:
Chair:
The Honorable Richard G. Lugar:
Ranking Member:
Committee on Foreign Relations:
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Herb Kohl:
Chair:
The Honorable Sam Brownback:
Ranking Member:
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related 
Agencies:
Committee on Appropriations:
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy:
Chair:
The Honorable Judd Gregg:
Ranking Member:
Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs:
Committee on Appropriations:
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Collin C. Peterson:
Chair:
The Honorable Frank D. Lucas:
Ranking Member:
Committee on Agriculture:
House of Representatives: 

The Honorable Howard L. Berman:
Chair:
The Honorable Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:
Ranking Member:
Committee on Foreign Affairs:
House of Representatives: 

The Honorable Rosa DeLauro:
Chair:
The Honorable Jack Kingston:
Ranking Member:
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related 
Agencies:
Committee on Appropriations:
House of Representatives: 

The Honorable Nita M. Lowey:
Chair:
The Honorable Kay Granger:
Ranking Member:
Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs:
Committee on Appropriations:
House of Representatives: 

[End of section] 

Enclosure I: Coordination and Integration: 

Background: 

Multiple U.S. government agencies and stakeholders coordinate U.S. food 
assistance programs through various forums. In 1990, the U.S. 
government established the Food Aid Consultative Group (FACG) to 
coordinate international food assistance activities. The FACG meets 
twice a year and includes participants from U.S. Agency for 
International Development (USAID), U.S. Department of Agriculture 
(USDA), and the private sector, among others. The FACG is a 
consultative body guided by an Executive Committee. In 2009, four FACG 
working groups were established to discuss commodities procurement, 
packaging, child nutrition, and transportation. 

In May 2008, the Food Security Sub-Policy Coordinating Committee was 
established to develop a governmentwide strategy. Ten U.S. agencies met 
biweekly until the group dissolved in January 2009. In April 2009, the 
new administration convened the Interagency Policy Committee led by the 
National Security Council and co-chaired by the Department of State and 
USAID. 

Also in 2009, a group of U.S. nongovernmental organizations (NGO) 
produced the Roadmap to End Global Hunger. This report makes 
recommendations in four issue areas that are needed for addressing 
global hunger in the short, intermediate, and long term, as well as 
necessary funding requirements. These four issue areas include: 

1. emergency response and management, 
2. social safety nets, 
3. nutrition programs, and, 
4. market-based agriculture and infrastructure development. 

Key Findings: 

International food assistance, which includes both food aid and food 
security programs, is provided by multiple U.S. agencies with differing 
strategies, goals, and objectives. In 2008, we reported that donors and 
other implementing partners experienced difficulties in coordination 
and that the United States lacked an integrated, governmentwide 
strategy to address the root causes of food insecurity. The U.S. 
Presidential Initiative to End Hunger in Africa—the principal strategy 
to meet its commitment toward halving hunger in sub-Saharan Africa—
purported to be a governmentwide strategy, but was limited to only some 
of USAID’s agricultural development activities and did not integrate 
with other agencies in terms of plans, programs, resources, and 
activities to address food insecurity in Africa. We will publish a new 
report on U.S. efforts to address global food insecurity in February 
2010. 

The United States has principally employed six programs to deliver food 
aid: Public Law (P.L.) 480 (renamed the Food for Peace Act in 2008), 
Titles I, II, and III; Food for Progress; McGovern-Dole Food for 
Education and Child Nutrition; and Section 416(b). Table 1 provides a 
summary of these food aid programs by program authority. 

Table 1: U.S. Food Aid by Program Authority, Fiscal Year 2008: 

Program: Total budget[A]; 
P.L. 480 (Food for Peace Act), Title I: $0 million; 
P.L. 480 (Food for Peace Act), Title II: $2,351 million; 
P.L. 480 (Food for Peace Act), Title III: $0 million[B]; 
Food for Progress: $166 million; 
McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition: $99 million; 
Section 416(b): $0 million[C]. 

Program: Managing agency; 
P.L. 480 (Food for Peace Act), Title I: USDA; 
P.L. 480 (Food for Peace Act), Title II: USAID; 
P.L. 480 (Food for Peace Act), Title III: USAID; 
Food for Progress: USDA; 
McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition: USDA; 
Section 416(b): USDA. 

Program: Description of assistance; 
P.L. 480 (Food for Peace Act), Title I: Concessional sales of 
agricultural commodities; 
P.L. 480 (Food for Peace Act), Title II: Donation of commodities to 
meet emergency and nonemergency needs; commodities may be sold in-
country for development purposes; 
P.L. 480 (Food for Peace Act), Title III: Donation of commodities to 
governments of least-developed countries; 
Food for Progress: Donation or credit sale of commodities to developing 
countries and emerging democracies; 
McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition: Donation of 
commodities and provision of financial and technical assistance in 
foreign countries; 
Section 416(b): Donations of surplus commodities to carry out purposes 
of P.L. 480 (Title II and Title III) and Food for Progress programs. 

Program: Implementing partners; 
P.L. 480 (Food for Peace Act), Title I: Governments and private 
entities; 
P.L. 480 (Food for Peace Act), Title II: World Food Program and NGOs; 
P.L. 480 (Food for Peace Act), Title III: Governments; 
Food for Progress: Governments, agricultural trade organizations, inter-
governmental organizations, NGOs, and cooperatives; 
McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition: Governments, 
private entities, inter-governmental organizations; 
Section 416(b): See implementing partners for Title II, Title III, and 
Food for Progress programs. 

Source: GAO analysis based on USAID and USDA data. 

[A] et data are for fiscal year 2008. USDA data represent programmed 
funding, while USAID data represent appropriated funds as of August 
2008. 

[B] This program has not been funded in recent years. 

[C] This program is currently inactive due to the unavailability of 
government-owned commodities. Because it is permanently authorized, it 
does not require reauthorization under the Farm Bill. 

[End of table] 

Recommendations: 

To enhance efforts to address global food insecurity and accelerate 
progress toward halving world hunger by 2015, particularly in sub-
Saharan Africa, in 2008, we recommended that the Administrator of USAID 
take the following two actions: 

Recommendation 1: 

Work in collaboration with the Secretaries of State, Agriculture, and 
the Treasury to develop an integrated, governmentwide U.S. strategy 
that defines each agency’s actions and resource commitments toward 
achieving food security in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Recommendation 2: 

Prepare and submit an annual report to Congress on progress toward the 
implementation of a governmentwide food security strategy. 

Response to Recommendations: 

Based on information provided by USAID and USDA and our own analysis, 
we determined that recommendation 1 has not been implemented. Although 
the Interagency Policy Committee has met regularly to develop a 
governmentwide food security strategy, the group has yet to publish its 
strategy. However, the Interagency Policy Committee has established an 
objective to help rural farmers feed themselves and to help countries 
establish sustainable agriculture systems by (1) investing in country-
led food security plans, (2) coordinating stakeholders strategically, 
(3) supporting multilateral mechanisms, (4) ensuring a sustained 
commitment, and (5) focusing on a comprehensive approach to agriculture 
productivity. The Interagency Policy Committee has also identified 
seven principles for its food security strategy, including the 
following: 

* increase agricultural productivity, 

* stimulate postharvest and private sector growth, 

* support women and families, 

* maintain the natural resource base, 

* expand knowledge and training, 

* increase trade flows, and 

* support an enabling policy environment. 

Based on information provided by USAID and USDA and our own analysis, 
we determined that recommendation 2 has not been implemented. USAID 
officials stated that they plan to update Congress on progress toward 
implementation of a governmentwide food security strategy as part of 
the agency’s 2008 Initiative to End Hunger in Africa report; the full 
version of this report was not publicly available as of September 2009. 
A summary report provided by USAID identifies three food security 
pillars—(1) immediate humanitarian response, (2) urgent measures to 
address causes of the food crisis, and (3) related international 
policies and opportunities—used to respond to the 2007 and 2008 global 
food crisis. However, the governmentwide strategy has not yet been 
finalized, and it is premature to report on its implementation. 

Oversight Questions: 

1. What coordination and integration mechanisms has the U.S. government 
established to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of U.S. 
international food assistance? 

2. What is the nature and scope of current U.S. global food security 
activities? What agencies, programs, and funding levels are involved? 
How are NGOs, international organizations, foreign governments, and 
host governments involved in these efforts? 

3. What progress have U.S. agencies made in developing an integrated 
governmentwide global food security strategy? What are the goals and 
timeframe for the implementation of the strategy? 

4. What key criteria has the U.S. government developed to assess the 
implementation of the global food security strategy? Does the U.S. 
government plan to report annually to Congress on the results of the 
strategy? 

For more information, contact Thomas Melito at (202) 512-9601 or 
melitot@gao.gov and Phillip J. Thomas at (202) 512-9892 or 
thomasp@gao.gov. 

[End of enclosure] 

Enclosure II: Needs Assessments and Market Information: 

Background: 

Ensuring that food aid reaches the most vulnerable populations is 
critical to enhancing its effectiveness. Emergency needs assessments 
include analyses of various factors, among them the effects of the 
crisis on vulnerable populations, strategies used by these populations 
to deal with the crisis, and the outcome in terms of food insecurity. 
They are usually carried out as a joint effort by several 
organizations, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 
the World Food Program (WFP), and NGOs, in response to a request from 
the government of an affected country. 

In addition to collecting primary data, assessors may use market 
information from other sources, such as recipient governments’ 
population estimates; national progress reports on policies, programs, 
and actions taken to reduce undernourishment; and agricultural data on 
market prices, production levels, and trade patterns. Assessors may 
also rely on pre-crisis vulnerability assessments and information 
generated by early warning systems, such as the USAID-funded Famine 
Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) and FAO’s Global International 
Early Warning System. 

Key Findings: 

The lack of comparable and reliable needs assessments and market 
information raises questions about the effectiveness of the use of food 
aid. While accurate and reliable market data would help ensure that 
U.S. agencies and implementing partners make optimal decisions with 
regard to when, where, and how to procure food locally or regionally, 
such data are not yet available. Weak coordination on assessments and 
the use of noncomparable methods have led to different estimates of 
food needs. Difficulties in identifying vulnerable populations have 
limited effective targeting. These factors represent significant 
challenges to increasing local or regional purchases of food aid; such 
purchases have the potential to indirectly support the development of 
local economies by increasing demand for agricultural commodities and 
raising farmers’ incomes, as shown in figure 1. 

Figure 1: Agricultural Commodity Value Chain Supported by Local and 
Regional Procurement (LRP): 

[Refer to PDF for image: complex diagram and 8 photographs] 

Entities depicted on the diagram: 
Aid organizations; 
WFP Purchase for Progress (P4P); 
Smallholder farmers; 
Processors and dryers; 
Quality superintendents and laboratories; 
Input suppliers (Fertilizer, seeds, tools); 
Large traders; 
Intermediate traders; 
Beneficiaries. 

Interactions depicted on the diagram: 
Value created by LRP: development, money, job creation, and demand; 
Food commodities and services provided by value chain parties; 
Value created by WFP P4P; 
Food commodities purchased through WFP P4P. 

Source: GAO analysis and photos. 

[End of figure] 

Recommendations: 

To improve the effective use of food aid, in 2007 and 2009, we 
recommended that the Administrator of USAID and the Secretary of 
Agriculture take the following three actions: 

Recommendation 1: 

Enhance the reliability and use of needs assessments for new and 
existing food aid programs by making assessments a priority in 
informing funding decisions, and more effectively build on lessons from 
past targeting experiences. 

Recommendation 2: 

Determine ways to provide adequate nonfood resources in situations 
where there is sufficient evidence that such assistance will enhance 
the effectiveness of food aid. 

Recommendation 3: 

Work with implementing partners to improve the reliability and utility 
of market intelligence in areas where the U.S.-funded LRP occurs, 
thereby ensuring that U.S.-funded LRP practices minimize adverse 
impacts and maximize potential benefits. 

Response to Recommendations: 

Based on information provided by USAID and USDA, and our own analysis, 
we determined that recommendation 1 has been implemented. On December 
20, 2007, USAID completed its review of Cooperating Sponsor assessment 
tools and promoted and mainstreamed the results of the donor-led WFP 
Strengthening Emergency Needs Assessment Committee initiative. In 
fiscal year 2009, USAID contributed $7.6 million of the newly 
authorized 2008 Food for Peace Act funding to FEWS NET to support 
remote monitoring of food insecurity in Burundi, Pakistan, and Yemen, 
among other activities. USDA has developed a framework that analyzes 
the needs of vulnerable groups. USDA’s local and regional procurement 
(LRP) guidelines, to be released for public comment by the end of 
September 2009, provide implementing partners with this framework to 
facilitate and coordinate the implementation of purchases made under 
the LRP pilot program. This framework has potential use in guiding the 
sales of commodities in ways that will assist in meeting the food needs 
of vulnerable groups during nonemergencies. 

Based on information provided by USAID and USDA, and our own analysis, 
we determined that recommendation 2 has been implemented. In enacting 
the 2008 Food for Peace Act, Congress authorized an increase in the 
amount of cash, also referred to as 202e funding, that NGOs can use for 
nonfood-related activities such as needs assessments, monitoring, and 
evaluation reporting. USAID established new guidelines on eligible use 
of this funding, requiring better integration with other development 
programs. USDA also has the authority to use cash to support 
complementary activities through the Food for Education program. USDA 
has used this capability extensively to support efforts to build 
sustainability and fund infrastructure improvements. 

Based on information provided by USAID and USDA, and our own analysis, 
we determined that our 2009 recommendation 3 has not been implemented. 
Although USAID and USDA have plans to address this recommendation, it 
is too soon to tell how the plans will be implemented. For example, 
USAID plans to review its experience with LRP to identify lessons 
learned with regard to market surveillance and seek ways to integrate 
and utilize existing market information networks. However, this review 
has not begun. USDA officials told us they plan to ensure that 
commodities purchased under USDA’s LRP pilot program are not harmful to 
the market by overseeing the analytical methodologies used by NGO 
market analysts. However, contracts for USDA’s LRP pilot program have 
yet to be awarded. Lastly, USAID issued new guidance to comply with the 
Bellmon Amendment, which requires that commodities imported in 
recipient countries (1) have adequate storage facilities, preventing 
spoilage or waste and (2) do not negatively affect domestic production 
or distort local markets. However, it is too soon to tell how the 
guidance will minimize adverse market impacts and maximize potential 
benefits of LRP. 

Oversight Questions: 

1. What have been the results of agency activities aimed at enhancing 
the reliability and use of needs assessments for food aid programs? 

2. To what extent have USAID and USDA worked with their implementing 
partners in the field to improve market intelligence in areas where 
U.S.-funded LRP occurs? 

3. What efforts are currently under way to improve market integration 
and information? 

For more information, contact Thomas Melito at (202) 512-9601 or 
melitot@gao.gov and Phillip J. Thomas at (202) 512-9892 or 
thomasp@gao.gov. 

[End of enclosure] 

Enclosure III: Transportation and Logistics: 

Background: 

The Cargo Preference Act of 1954, as amended, which is enforced by the 
Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Maritime Administration 
(MARAD), requires USAID and USDA to transport up to 75 percent of the 
gross tonnage of all U.S.-funded food aid on U.S.-flag vessels. 
Delivering U.S. food aid from vendor to village requires on average 4 
to 6 months, including: (1) purchasing the commodities, (2) awarding 
transportation contracts, (3) bagging the food, (4) transporting the 
food to a U.S. port for export, (5) shipping the food to an overseas 
port, and (6) transporting the food by truck or rail to its final 
distribution location. While agencies have in some cases tried to 
expedite food aid delivery, the entire logistics process often lacks 
the timeliness required to meet humanitarian needs in emergencies and 
may at times result in food spoilage. 

Key Findings: 

Food aid procurement and transportation are costly and time-consuming. 
According to USAID officials, transportation and other delivery costs 
are requiring a larger share of program resources at the expense of 
procuring more food to feed hungry people. Owing to elevated ocean 
freight rates and soaring fuel prices, transportation costs surged and 
were reflected in higher costs incurred for global food aid deliveries. 
Although USAID’s cost per metric ton of ocean transportation declined 
from 2001 to 2003, this cost increased significantly from 2003 to 2008 
(see figure 1). DOT officials expect transportation costs to decline as 
a result of the global economic downturn. 

Figure 1: USAID Ocean Transportation Cost Per Metric Ton, Calendar Year 
2001 to 2008: 

[Refer to PDF for image: line graph] 

Calendar year: 2001; 
Cost per ton of ocean transport (Constant U.S. dollars): $139. 

Calendar year: 2002; 
Cost per ton of ocean transport (Constant U.S. dollars): $134. 

Calendar year: 2003; 
Cost per ton of ocean transport (Constant U.S. dollars): $107. 

Calendar year: 2004; 
Cost per ton of ocean transport (Constant U.S. dollars): $142. 

Calendar year: 2005; 
Cost per ton of ocean transport (Constant U.S. dollars): $136. 

Calendar year: 2006; 
Cost per ton of ocean transport (Constant U.S. dollars): $136. 

Calendar year: 2007; 
Cost per ton of ocean transport (Constant U.S. dollars): $146. 

Calendar year: 2008; 
Cost per ton of ocean transport (Constant U.S. dollars): $176. 

Source: GAO analysis of USAID data. 

[End of figure] 

Various factors cause inefficiencies in food aid logistics, including 
(1) funding and planning processes; (2) ocean transportation 
contracting practices; and (3) legal requirements, such as cargo 
preference. Uncertainty regarding cargo preference could also constrain 
U.S. agencies’ implementation of local and regional food procurement. 

Recommendations: 

To improve the efficiency of U.S. food aid—in terms of its amount, 
timeliness, and quality—in 2007 and 2009, we recommended that the 
Administrator of USAID and the Secretaries of Agriculture and 
Transportation take the following four actions with regard to 
transportation and logistics: 

Recommendation 1: 

Improve food aid logistical planning through cost-benefit analysis of 
(1) supply management options, such as long-term transportation 
agreements, and (2) prepositioning (or positioning U.S. food aid in 
warehouses abroad), including consideration of alternative methods, 
such as those used by WFP. 

Recommendation 2: 

Work together and with stakeholders to modernize ocean transportation 
and contracting practices to include, to the extent possible, 
commercial principles of shared risks, streamlined administration, and 
expedited payment and claims resolution. 

Recommendation 3: 

Seek to minimize the cost impact of cargo preference regulations on 
food aid transportation expenditures by updating implementation and 
reimbursement methodologies to account for new supply practices, such 
as prepositioning, and potential costs associated with older vessels or 
limited foreign-flag participation. 

Recommendation 4: 

Expedite updating the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between U.S. 
food assistance agencies and DOT to resolve uncertainties associated 
with the application of cargo preference to regional food procurement. 

Response to Recommendations: 

Based on information provided by USAID, USDA, and DOT, and our own 
analysis, we determined that recommendation 1 has been implemented. 
USAID, in coordination with DOT, completed a cost-benefit analysis of a 
long-term transportation agreement with the Department of Defense’s 
U.S. Transportation Command under a Universal Service Contract (USC). 
However, a proposed pilot program was not well received by some of the 
shipping industry, and USAID officials found the USC rates to be 
uncompetitive with open market rates for particular transportation 
routes. USAID plans to investigate other long-term transportation 
options, and USDA will wait for USAID’s feedback before pursuing 
similar options. After an independent study on prepositioning was 
completed, USAID officials evaluated proposals to expand the number of 
warehouses from which it prepositions food abroad to five regions 
around the world, including the Horn of Africa, Central and Southern 
Africa, Southeast Asia, West Africa, and the U.S. Gulf area. USAID 
expects to award a contract by September 30, 2009. 

Based on information provided by USAID, USDA, and DOT, and our own 
analysis, we determined that recommendation 2 has been implemented. 
USAID, USDA, and DOT have established a new transportation working 
group of the FACG, standardized transportation contracts, and performed 
market research on the cost of commercial marine insurance. USAID and 
USDA have streamlined administration by combining shipments of U.S. 
food aid whenever possible, which can result in reduced transportation 
costs. In June 2008, nearly all USAID and USDA packaged commodities 
were combined, according to a joint USAID and USDA report to Congress 
in January 2009. USAID has solicited information, evaluated proposals, 
and made a recommendation on an electronic payment system for freight. 
USDA will continue to pay for freight electronically through its 
existing system and upgrade in fiscal year 2010. USDA’s new food 
procurement regulations, released in May 2009, clarified eligibility 
requirements of entities that receive food aid through USDA’s Food for 
Progress and McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition 
programs and set administrative procedures for resolving cargo claims.
Based on information provided by USAID, USDA, and DOT, and our own 
analysis, we determined that recommendation 3 has not been implemented. 
On September 4, 2009, USAID, USDA, and DOT signed a new MOU outlining a 
unified government legal position that clarifies how vessels will be 
categorized for purposes of cargo preference compliance. However, this 
MOU does not address concerns raised in our recommendations related to 
cargo preference costs. Another MOU, which outlines how to calculate 
reimbursement of ocean freight costs and coordinate the administration 
of cargo preference requirements, was last updated in 1987 and does not 
reflect modern transportation practices. To minimize the cost impact of 
cargo preference, USAID, USDA, and DOT must reach a new agreement that 
would commit all parties to some significant changes in cargo 
preference administration. According to DOT officials, a revised MOU 
cannot be completed until its cargo preference regulations are updated. 
Although DOT has begun the regulatory reform process with the Office of 
Management and Budget, as of September 30, 2009, the regulations had 
not been updated. According to a USAID official, finalizing DOT 
regulations could extensively delay the signing of an MOU. As we noted 
in our 2009 report, there is no requirement that finalizing regulations 
precede an MOU, nor does an MOU preclude the issuance of new 
regulations. 

Consistent with recommendation 3, we determined that recommendation 4 
has not been implemented. However, agencies have resolved one area of 
uncertainty by agreeing that cargo preference applies to 50, rather 
than 75, percent of the tonnage of food transported by sea regionally. 

Oversight Questions: 

1. What are the results of agency efforts to (1) modernize ocean 
transportation and contracting practices and (2) update cargo 
preference implementation and reimbursement methodologies? 

2. What key steps, if any, have agencies taken to address and minimize 
the cost impact of cargo preference regulations on food aid? 

3. What information and data related to long-term costs and benefits of 
increased efficiencies in food aid logistics should agencies collect? 

For more information, contact Thomas Melito at (202) 512-9601 or 
melitot@gao.gov and Phillip J. Thomas at (202) 512-9892 or 
thomasp@gao.gov. 

[End of enclosure] 

Enclosure IV: Nutrition and Food Quality Control: 

Background: 

Food aid commodity specifications include specific requirements that 
commodity vendors must follow to meet USAID’s or USDA’s contracts for 
producing and delivering the commodities. The specifications contain 
standards relating to the quality, appearance, and delivery of the 
product; conditions under which it is to be grown or produced; explicit 
descriptions regarding its nutrient content; and details of the 
inspection process. For example, one congressional mandate for U.S. 
food aid requires that 75 percent of the approved nonemergency food aid 
program commodities that are processed, fortified, or bagged be “value-
added,” or include certain micronutrients. As of September 2008, only 
48 percent of Food for Peace, Title II, U.S. food aid was value-added. 
According to the World Health Organization, deficiencies in 
micronutrients, such as iron, vitamin A, and zinc, rank among the top 
10 leading causes of death from disease in developing countries, and 
micronutrient fortification of food aid is considered one of the most 
cost-effective approaches to addressing widespread deficiencies. 

Recommendations: 

To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of U.S. food aid—in terms 
of its amount, timeliness, and quality—in 2007 and 2009, we recommended 
that the Administrator of USAID and Secretary of Agriculture take the 
following three actions with regard to nutrition and quality control of 
international food assistance: 

Key Findings: 

In 2007, we reported that although U.S. agencies had made efforts to 
improve the nutritional quality of food aid, the appropriate 
nutritional value of the food and the readiness of U.S. agencies to 
address nutritional-related quality issues remained uncertain. U.S. 
agencies and stakeholders were not coordinating adequately to respond 
to food and delivery problems when they arose. For example, in 2006, we 
found live and dead insects in bags of cornmeal shipped to Durban, 
South Africa, as shown in figure 1. 

Moreover, USAID and USDA did not have a central mechanism to update 
food aid products and their specifications. Commodity suppliers 
complained that food aid product specifications were not as clear and 
consistent as in the commercial sector and that some requirements for 
food aid commodities were outdated and no longer necessary. In 2009, we 
reported that LRP of food aid can provide more culturally appropriate 
food, but concerns persist about the quality of the food and adherence 
to certain product specifications. We found that evidence on LRP’s 
adherence to quality standards and product specifications had not been 
systematically collected. 

Figure 1: Delays Led to Contamination of U.S. Food Aid in Durban, South 
Africa in 2006: 

Refer to PDF for image: 2 photographs] 

Source: GAO. 

[End of figure] 

Recommendation 1: 

Establish a coordinated system for tracking and resolving food quality 
complaints. 

Recommendation 2: 

Develop an interagency mechanism to update food aid specifications and 
products. 

Recommendation 3: 
Collect evidence on LRP’s adherence to quality standards. 

Response to Recommendations: 

Based on information provided by USAID and USDA, an our own analysis, 
we determined that recommendation 1 has been implemented. USAID and 
USDA have worked together to strengthen the current system for tracking 
and resolving food quality complaints. Within a subgroup of the FACG, 
USAID, USDA, and stakeholders have developed a flow chart of standard 
operating procedures to resolve food quality complaints, also known as 
the commodity quality “feedback loop.” As of August 2009, USDA 
officials had incorporated into the feedback loop additional details 
concerning halting distribution and shortening the response time and 
planned to circulate the final version to the FACG. USAID used the 
feedback loop to facilitate the U.S. response to two recent food 
quality complaints of corn-soya blend delivered to Haiti and Guatemala. 
Finally, the FACG has initiated an ad hoc field reporting group on food 
quality that has met regularly since September 2006 to share 
information about food quality problems. 

Based on information provided by USAID and USDA, and our own analysis, 
we determined that recommendation 2 has been implemented. USAID awarded 
a contract to Tufts University’s School of Nutrition to evaluate the 
nutritional needs of food aid beneficiary populations against the 
commodities currently available to meet those needs in the context of 
total available food resources. This study will review current 
enrichment and fortification technologies and delivery methods and 
involve the active participation of industry, academic, and operational 
experts. USAID and USDA are developing a framework for reporting 
adherence to commodity quality standards focused on food aid 
manufacturing and processing. In September 2008, SUSTAIN—a nonprofit 
organization whose mission is to improve nutrition in developing 
countries through innovative applications of food science and 
technology—published a food aid quality study for USDA that developed 
new product specifications for food aid to meet U.S. commercial food 
industry quality standards. USDA is working with USAID to implement the 
recommendations of the study. In response to the study, USDA’s Federal 
Grain Inspection Service is analyzing the manufacturing variability of 
corn-soya blend to improve the standards and testing of domestically 
procured products. 

Based on information provided by USAID and USDA, and our own analysis, 
we determined that our 2009 recommendation 3 has not been implemented. 
Although USAID and USDA have plans to address this recommendation, the 
agencies have not yet initiated these plans. USAID is currently 
drafting guidance for future LRP purchases that will include quality 
standards and product specifications requirements, as well as testing 
and reporting procedures to ensure adherence to those requirements. 
USDA intends to require that LRP implementing partners (1) document the 
steps taken to ensure food safety and the effectiveness of those steps 
for all purchases; (2) stipulate the minimum acceptable commodity 
quality standards and product specifications in procurement contracts 
for commodities sourced from farmer associations and commercial 
sources; and (3) report on the quality and specifications for all local 
and regional procurements, as well as document their appropriateness 
for those in need of assistance. 

Oversight Questions: 

1. What are the results of U.S. agencies working together to coordinate 
efforts to track and resolve food quality complaints? 

2. How have implementing partners utilized the FACG’s “feedback loop” 
and what has been the outcome? 

3. How have U.S. agencies implemented SUSTAIN’s recommendations on 
updating specifications and improving nutritional standards of U.S. 
food aid? 

4. What are the major challenges faced by implementing partners to 
ensuring U.S. food aid meets quality standards and specifications? 

5. Where are U.S. nutrition resources directed and what nutrition 
interventions do they support? 

For more information, contact Thomas Melito at (202) 512-9601 or 
melitot@gao.gov and Phillip J. Thomas at (202) 512-9892 or 
thomasp@gao.gov. 

[End of enclosure] 

Enclosure V: Monitoring and Evaluation: 

Background: 

Monitoring and evaluation are critical oversight and program management 
tools that could help to ensure that strategic objectives of 
international food aid programs are met. 

For the purposes of this enclosure, we consider whether agencies are 
monitoring (1) that the necessary inputs for programs (equipment, 
supplies, and personnel) are in place and that programs are being 
implemented as intended, and (2) that programs are achieving their 
expected outputs and targets by regularly tracking performance 
indicators. 

For the purposes of this enclosure, we consider whether agencies are 
evaluating (1) the extent to which program objectives were achieved, as 
well as the factors that influenced outcome achievement, and (2) the 
degree to which outcomes and impacts can be attributed directly to 
programs, and the cost-effectiveness of the programs. 

Recommendations: 

To improve the efficiency and effective use of food aid, in 2007 we 
recommended that the Administrator of USAID and the Secretary of 
Agriculture take the following two actions with regard to monitoring 
and evaluating international food assistance: 

Key Findings: 

In 2007, we reported that USAID and USDA were not sufficiently 
monitoring food aid programs, particularly in recipient countries, due 
to limited staff, competing priorities, and restrictions on the use of 
food aid resources. USAID is taking a series of actions in an effort to 
improve its monitoring and evaluation of nonemergency food aid 
programs, as mandated by the 2008 Food for Peace Act, shown in figure 
1. 

Figure 1: USAID Allocations of the Food for Peace Act Funding for 
Monitoring and Evaluation in Fiscal Year 2009 and Implementation 
Timelines: 

[Refer to PDF for image: pie-chart and horizontal bar graph] 

Allocation of Food for Peace funding: 

Total = $22,000,000; 
Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), $7,600,000: 35%; 
New Food for Peace field staff positions, $5,000,000: 23%; 
Information technology upgrade, $637,000: 3%; 
Monetization study, $5,000: .02%; 
Unused funding, $8,758,000: 40%. 

Implementation timelines: 

New Food for Peace field staff positions: 
Late 2008 - Late 2010; 

FEWS NET: 
Early 2009 - Early 2010; 

Information technology upgrade: 
Late 2009 - Late 2010; 

Monetization study: 
Late 2009 - Mid-2010. 

Source: GAO analysis of USAID data. 

Note: Totals may not add due to rounding. 

[End of figure] 

USAID and USDA require NGOs and WFP to regularly monitor both emergency 
and nonemergency food aid programs. In 2007, we reported that about 50 
percent of nonemergency U.S. food aid was monetized—sold by NGOs in a 
recipient country as a means to generate cash for development projects. 
We also reported that U.S. agencies were not collecting or maintaining 
data electronically on the revenues generated from monetization, and 
therefore, the degree to which monetization revenues covered costs was 
not being monitored. 

Recommendation 1: 

Improve monitoring of food aid programs to ensure proper management and 
implementation. 

Recommendation 2: 

Develop an information collection system to track monetization 
transactions. 

In 2009 we also recommended that the Administrator of USAID take the 
following actions: 

Recommendation 3: 

Develop a “concept of operations” document to help reduce the risks 
associated with upgrading the Office of Food for Peace information 
technology system. Such a document should adhere to industry best 
practices and include key elements such as major system components, 
interfaces to external systems, and performance characteristics. 

Recommendation 4: 

Develop an integrated monitoring and evaluation plan that (1) links 
monitoring and evaluation to key USAID goals, (2) establishes a 
systematic process for determining appropriate budget levels and staff 
resources, (3) examines all available funding options, and (4) 
establishes time frames for implementing and evaluating the plan. 

Response to Recommendations: 

Based on information provided by USAID and USDA, and our own analysis, 
we determined that recommendation 1 has been implemented. In passing 
the Food for Peace Act in 2008, Congress authorized up to $22 million 
annually for fiscal years 2009 to 2012 to USAID to improve, monitor, 
and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of nonemergency food aid 
programs. Congress required USAID to submit an implementation report on 
the agency’s efforts in these areas, and also required the Comptroller 
General of the United States to review USAID’s report and provide 
recommendations for improvement (see GAO-09-980). USAID plans to use 
approximately $5 million of its new Food for Peace Act funding to add 
21 full-time field staff whose responsibilities will include the 
monitoring of nonemergency food aid programs. USAID also intends to 
expand the use of Layers—a computerized system using personal data 
assistant (PDA) devices for monitoring the implementation and 
management of nonemergency food aid programs. Layers has been piloted 
in Ethiopia, Haiti, and Madagascar, and USAID plans to expand usage to 
20 countries by the end of 2012 through its cooperative agreement with 
the Academy for Educational Development. 

For USDA, as of May 2008, the Foreign Agricultural Service had 
established four staff positions entirely devoted to monitoring food 
aid programs. The agency also requested additional funding to hire two 
additional staff for monitoring and evaluation services in fiscal year 
2010. This authority was initiated in the new Food for Progress and 
McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program 
regulations, published in May 2009. Finally, USDA adjusted its method 
for determining priority food aid recipient countries by prioritizing 
countries where a Foreign Agricultural Service attaché can provide 
monitoring and evaluation services for food assistance activities. 

Based on information provided by USAID and USDA, and our own analysis, 
we determined that recommendation 2 has been implemented. According to 
USAID, monetization transactions are currently reflected in annual 
results reports. The implementation of USAID’s Quarterly Web Interfaced 
Commodity Reporting System will occur in autumn 2009 and is expected to 
capture such transactions electronically. USAID officials anticipate 
the system will standardize and centralize all commodity information 
submitted by participating organizations, thereby facilitating 
reporting. USDA’s planned Food Aid Information System will include 
interaction with USAID on monetization outcomes and will provide data 
on commodity shipments, local conditions for monetization, and product 
quality. Contracting for the establishment of the system began in 
fiscal year 2009. 

Based on information provided by USAID, and our own analysis, we 
determined that recommendations 3 and 4 have not been implemented. It 
is too early to assess the impact of USAID’s planned monitoring and 
evaluation actions because most are still in progress. 

Oversight Questions: 

1. What are the requirements of emergency vs. nonemergency food aid 
monitoring and evaluation? 

2. To what extent has USAID evaluated the effectiveness of the Layers 
monitoring system, and will its rollout take place as planned? 

3. To what extent have U.S. agencies developed a comprehensive 
monitoring and evaluation plan, in consultation with stakeholders, 
which details activities to be conducted, estimated budget, and 
relationship to a strategic plan? 

4. To what extent have U.S. agencies established policies to coordinate 
monitoring and evaluation efforts governmentwide, including overseas 
missions, and developed a strategy to ensure that results of 
evaluations will be used to improve existing programs? 

5. How are the outcomes and results of agency evaluations shared? 

6. How have U.S. agencies analyzed and used data gathered on cost 
recovery of monetization? 

For more information, contact Thomas Melito at (202) 512-9601 or 
melitot@gao.gov and Phillip J. Thomas at (202) 512-9892 or 
thomasp@gao.gov. 

[End of enclosure] 

Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology: 

The issues discussed in the five enclosures are based on completed and 
ongoing GAO work on international food assistance. They incorporate 
information from agency documents, including agency updates on programs 
implemented to respond to our past recommendations on international 
food assistance, and interviews with U.S. officials in Washington, 
D.C., including the Departments of Agriculture (USDA), State (State), 
and Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Agency for International 
Development (USAID). Potential oversight questions were established by 
assessing agencies' planned activities in response to our 
recommendations and determining additional questions that remain. 

We conducted our work from June 2009 to September 2009. The work on 
which this report is based[Footnote 22] was conducted in accordance 
with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards 
require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient and 
appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings and 
conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidence 
obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusions 
based on our audit objectives. 

Enclosure I: Coordination and Integration: 

To discuss the extent to which U.S. agency officials are coordinating 
and integrating international food assistance activities, we relied on 
previous GAO reporting and reviewed the 2008 International Food 
Assistance Report (IFAR) and the 2008 Overview of the U.S. Presidential 
Initiative to End Hunger in Africa. We gathered budget data on food aid 
programs from the IFAR and agency officials and determined the data 
were sufficiently reliable for our purposes. We also interviewed State, 
USAID, USDA, and DOT officials to clarify roles and participation in 
the Food Aid Consultative Group, the Food Security Sub-Policy 
Coordination Committee, the Interagency Policy Committee, and the 
Global Food Security Response. We also collected and analyzed 
information prepared by the "Roadmap Coalition," a group of U.S. 
nongovernmental organizations (NGO), including Bread for the World, 
CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Friends of the World Food Program, 
Mercy Corps, and Save the Children, among others. 

Enclosure II: Needs Assessments and Market Information: 

To discuss the extent to which U.S. agencies have improved needs 
assessments and market information for more effective targeting of 
international food assistance, we relied on previous GAO reporting that 
included a review of several World Food Program (WFP) internal 
evaluations, including those related to needs assessments and 
targeting, and some external studies, such as those conducted by the 
Washington, D.C.-based International Food Policy Research Institute. We 
also relied on preliminary findings on the potential market risks, 
market intelligence, and development benefits associated with local and 
regional procurement of food aid that were validated at a roundtable 
that consisted of 10 experts and practitioners--including 
representatives from academia, research organizations, multilateral 
organizations, and NGOs. We also reviewed USAID and USDA guidance on 
(1) funding that can be used for nonfood activities, (2) compliance 
with the Bellmon Amendment, and (3) application for local and regional 
food procurement funding. Lastly, we spoke with USAID officials about 
plans to enhance the Famine Early Warning Systems Network. 

Enclosure III: Transportation and Logistics: 

To provide an update on improved delivery of international food 
assistance through more efficient transportation and logistics, we 
relied on previous GAO reporting, which included (1) analyzing food aid 
procurement and ocean transportation data provided by the Kansas City 
Commodity Office, (2) conducting structured interviews of the 14 U.S.- 
and foreign-flag ocean carriers that transport over 80 percent of U.S. 
food aid tonnage, and (3) collecting additional information from 
shipping agents and transportation experts. We analyzed USAID ocean 
transportation cost data for fiscal years 2001 to 2008 and found the 
data sufficiently reliable to represent trends over time. In July 2009, 
we attended a briefing for the commercial shipping industry, hosted by 
USAID and DOT-U.S. Maritime Administration, to understand the merits of 
a long-term ocean transportation contract for U.S. food aid with the 
U.S. Department of Defense Transportation Command. We also collected 
information from agency officials with regard to commercial marine 
insurance, electronic freight payment systems, and combined shipments. 
Lastly, we discussed the status of an interagency Memorandum of 
Understanding on cargo preference as it applies to food aid with 
officials from USAID, USDA, and DOT. 

Enclosure IV: Nutrition and Food Quality Control: 

To assess food quality and nutrition issues of international food 
assistance, we relied on past GAO reporting that includes interviews 
with and reviews of reports by commodity suppliers, trade associations, 
and officials from NGOs, WFP, USAID, and the Animal and Plant Health 
Inspection Service. We also reviewed U.S. agency food aid product 
specifications, rules and regulations, commodity complaint logs, and 
quality control guidelines; USAID audit reports; and internal agency 
correspondence and documents concerning food quality and nutrition 
issues. We examined assessments and discussed with WFP procurement 
officers the quality of local and regionally procured food. Lastly, we 
evaluated USDA's "feedback loop" flow chart for food quality 
complaints, a 2008 report prepared for USDA by SUSTAIN on new product 
specifications for food aid, USAID's contract with Tufts University's 
School of Nutrition to evaluate nutritional needs of food aid 
beneficiary populations, and USDA's guidelines for implementing 
partners that receive funding through the local and regional 
procurement pilot. 

Enclosure V: Monitoring and Evaluation: 

To assess U.S. agencies' monitoring of food aid programs, we relied on 
past GAO reporting that included a review of agencies' Inspectors 
General reports, monitoring and evaluation guidance for implementing 
partners, and staffing data. We also examined USAID's December 2008 
report to Congress, which outlined USAID's plans to improve its 
monitoring and evaluation of nonemergency food aid programs. We 
interviewed USAID and USDA officials, including agency staff 
responsible for monitoring the implementation of nonemergency food aid 
programs, contractors, and implementing partners such as NGOs and WFP. 
Lastly, we reviewed documents and gathered information from USAID on 
information systems designed to collect data on commodities, 
recipients, losses, and monetization outcomes. 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

Thomas Melito, (202) 512-9601 or melitot@gao.gov Phillip J. Thomas, 
(202) 512-9892 or thomasp@gao.gov: 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the contact named above, Phillip Thomas (Assistant 
Director), Sada Aksartova, Larry Bridges, Carol Bray, Ming Chen, Debbie 
Chung, Lynn Cothern, Martin De Alteriis, Mark Dowling, Brian Egger, 
Etana Finkler, Kendall Helm, Joy Labez, Ulyana Panchishin, Harold 
Reich, Lisa Reijula, Julia A. Roberts, and David Schneider made key 
contributions to this report. 

[End of section] 

Related GAO Products: 

International Food Assistance: USAID Is Taking Actions to Improve 
Monitoring and Evaluation of Nonemergency Food Aid, but Weaknesses in 
Planning Could Impede Efforts. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-980]. Washington, D.C.: September 
28, 2009. 

International Food Assistance: Local and Regional Procurement Provides 
Opportunities to Enhance U.S. Food Aid, but Challenges May Constrain 
Its Implementation. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-757T]. Washington, D.C.: June 4, 
2009. 

International Food Assistance: Local and Regional Procurement Can 
Enhance the Efficiency of U.S. Food Aid, but Challenges May Constrain 
Its Implementation. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-570]. Washington, D.C.: May 29, 
2009. 

International Food Security: Insufficient Efforts by Host Governments 
and Donors Threaten Progress to Halve Hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa by 
2015. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-680]. Washington, 
D.C.: May 29, 2008. 

Foreign Assistance: Various Challenges Limit the Efficiency and 
Effectiveness of U.S. Food Aid. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-905T]. Washington, D.C.: May 24, 
2007. 

Foreign Assistance: Various Challenges Impede the Efficiency and 
Effectiveness of U.S. Food Aid. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-560]. Washington, D.C.: April 13, 
2007. 

Foreign Assistance: U.S. Agencies Face Challenges to Improving the 
Efficiency and Effectiveness of Food Aid. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-616T]. Washington, D.C.: March 21, 
2007. 

Darfur Crisis: Progress in Aid and Peace Monitoring Threatened by 
Ongoing Violence and Operational Challenges. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-9]. Washington, D.C.: November 9, 
2006. 

Foreign Assistance: Lack of Strategic Focus and Obstacles to 
Agricultural Recovery Threaten Afghanistan's Stability. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-607]. Washington, D.C.: June 30, 
2003. 

Foreign Assistance: Sustained Efforts Needed to Help Southern Africa 
Recover from Food Crisis. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-03-644]. Washington, D.C.: June 25, 
2003. 

Food Aid: Experience of U.S. Programs Suggest Opportunities for 
Improvement. [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-02-801T]. 
Washington, D.C.: June 4, 2002. 

Foreign Assistance: Global Food for Education Initiative Faces 
Challenges for Successful Implementation. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-02-328]. Washington, D.C.: February 28, 
2002. 

Foreign Assistance: U.S. Food Aid Program to Russia Had Weak Internal 
Controls. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/NSIAD/AIMD-00-329]. Washington, D.C.: 
September 29, 2000. 

Foreign Assistance: U.S. Bilateral Food Assistance to North Korea Had 
Mixed Results. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/NSIAD-00-175]. Washington, D.C.: June 
15, 2000. 

Foreign Assistance: Donation of U.S. Planting Seed to Russia in 1999 
Had Weaknesses. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/NSIAD-00-91]. Washington, D.C.: March 
9, 2000. 

Foreign Assistance: North Korea Restricts Food Aid Monitoring. 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/NSIAD-00-35]. Washington, 
D.C.: October 8, 1999. 

Food Security: Factors That Could Affect Progress toward Meeting World 
Food Summit Goals. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/NSIAD-99-15]. Washington, D.C.: March 
22, 1999. 

Food Security: Preparations for the 1996 World Food Summit. [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO/NSIAD-97-44]. Washington, D.C.: 
November 7, 1996. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] FAO defines "undernourishment" as the condition of people whose 
food consumption is continuously below a minimum dietary energy 
requirement for maintaining an acceptable minimum body size, living a 
healthy life, and carrying out light physical activity. While we 
recognize that there are different technical definitions for "chronic 
undernourishment," "food insecurity," and "hunger," we use these terms 
interchangeably in this report. 

[2] The 27 countries in Africa requiring emergency assistance in 2007 
represents an 80 percent increase in the number of countries requiring 
such assistance from 1993 to 2000, or 15 countries. 

[3] According to FAO, food security occurs when all people at all times 
have both physical and economic access to sufficient food to meet their 
dietary needs for a productive and healthy life. 

[4] Food insecurity--the lack of access of all people at all times to 
sufficient, nutritionally adequate, and safe food, without undue risk 
of losing such access--results in hunger and malnutrition, according to 
FAO. 

[5] GAO, International Food Security: Insufficient Efforts by Host 
Governments and Donors Threaten Progress to Halve Hunger in Sub-Saharan 
Africa by 2015, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-680] 
(Washington, D.C.: May 29, 2008). 

[6] U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), U.S. 
International Food Assistance Report (2008). 

[7] Members of the G8 are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, 
Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In addition, the 
European Union is represented within the G8. 

[8] GAO, Foreign Assistance: Various Challenges Impede the Efficiency 
and Effectiveness of U.S. Food Aid, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-560] (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 13, 
2007); [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-680]; 
International Food Assistance: Local and Regional Procurement Can 
Enhance the Efficiency of U.S. Food Aid, but Challenges May Constrain 
Its Implementation, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-570] 
(Washington, D.C.: May 29, 2009); and International Food Assistance: 
USAID Is Taking Actions to Improve Monitoring and Evaluation of 
Nonemergency Food Aid, but Weaknesses in Planning Could Impede Efforts, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-980] (Washington, D.C.: 
Sept. 28, 2009). 

[9] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-560]. 

[10] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-680]. 

[11] Other U.S. agencies, such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation 
and USDA, provide substantial assistance that includes efforts intended 
to address agriculture and food security in sub-Saharan Africa, but 
these efforts are not integrated into the U.S. Presidential Initiative 
to End Hunger in Africa. 

[12] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-560]. 

[13] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-570]. 

[14] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-560]. 

[15] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-570]. 

[16] "Food quality" refers to the adherence of the food to product 
specifications and quality standards to ensure food safety and 
nutritional content. 

[17] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-560]. 

[18] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-570]. 

[19] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-560]. 

[20] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-980]. 

[21] Monetization is the practice of using food aid to generate cash 
for development projects. 

[22] [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-560], [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-08-680], [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-570], and [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-09-980]. 

[End of section] 

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