Thursday, December 09, 2010

US Aid suspends contractor operating education services in Afghanistan

USAID has suspended a contractor from receiving any new government contracts. The contractor is the Washington DC based non profit Academy for Educational Development. A. E. D. is being investigated by USAID for evidence of collusion that inflated the price of goods the non-profit bought. USAID contracted with A. E. D. to provide educational services in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

From the Washington Post, writer Dana Hedgpeth and Josh Boak tell us more about the investigation.

USAID's Office of Inspector General is investigating the Academy for Educational Development (AED), which is based in the District. The 49-year-old nonprofit group contracts with U.S. government agencies and others to run health, education, social and economic development programs in about 150 countries.

AED is also one of USAID's key contractors in Afghanistan, overseeing the government agency's higher-education program in the war-torn country. In the past three years, it has received $109 million in contracts from USAID for work in Afghanistan.

Initial findings by the inspector general's office "reveal evidence of serious corporate misconduct, mismanagement, and a lack of internal controls, and raise serious concerns of corporate integrity," according to a statement from USAID.

AED has 65 contract awards from USAID worth roughly $640 million, according to a USAID official.

The agency said it plans to conduct "an immediate internal review" of "every program associated with AED."

USAID recently ended a five-year, $150 million cooperative agreement with AED after its inspector general found evidence of fraud related to a program in Pakistan that was designed to provide disaster relief, infrastructure development, education and agricultural services, according to a recent report to Congress that did not identify the company by name. A source close to the investigation confirmed that the company in the report was AED.

In that Pakistan program, the inspector general's investigation found "evidence of collusion between vendors and staff . . . resulting in overpayment for certain goods," according to the agency's report.

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