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This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

The Assessing Progress in Haiti Act (H.R. 1016) was approved by a voice vote in the Senate this week, almost a year after it was passed by the House. The Act “directs the President to report to Congress on the status of post-earthquake humanitarian, reconstruction, and development efforts in Haiti” including progress of programs, alignment with the Haitian government priorities, and coordination among U.S. agencies and other donors.

In a forthcoming paper entitled “Haiti: Where Has All the Money Gone?” we piece together information from fact sheets from USAID and other sources to figure out the intermediary recipients of U.S. money.   The U.S. Department of Defense, which took responsibility for security in Haiti in the aftermath of the quake, was the largest recipient.  The remainder of the funds went to large international NGOs, private contractors, and other agencies of the U.S. government such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Health and Human Services (HHS).  As we have blogged previously, less than one percent went to the Government of Haiti to rebuild public institutions. And Haitian-led NGOs have barely received any money at all.

Private contractors have also benefitted a great deal from the Haiti quake. Ten private contractors received over $437 million in post-earthquake contracts.  A cable found on WikiLeaks referred to the procurement process for private contractors as a “gold rush,” and questions have been raised about the contracts awarded in the aftermath of the quake.  Figure 1 shows the top recipients of post-earthquake funding for Haiti.

Figure 1: Top Recipients of USG Haiti Earthquake Funding, FY 2010-2011 (USD Millions)

Total Humanitarian Assistance from USAID, State, and DOD.  USAID and State are not listed since their money was re-allocated to the implementing partners above.  Represents obligated amounts as of September 29, 2011.   Source: USAID Earthquake and Cholera Fact Sheets, FY 2010 is Fact Sheet #73, Sept 24, 2010.   FY 2011 is from Fact Sheet #13, Sept 29, 2011.

Contracts to Haitian firms remain few and far between.  Following a request from Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch, USAID released data on its procurement from local contractors in Haiti.   Local contracts add up to $9.45 million, which is less than one percent of total contracts awarded by USAID.  Over 75 percent of USAID funds went to private contractors inside the Beltway (located in Washington DC, Maryland, or Virginia).   And we do not know how much subcontracting has occurred to local firms; a problem that USAID has recognized on its website: Unfortunately, the Agency does not have the systems in place to track sub-grants and sub-contracts so it is not possible to state precisely the number of partners or the percentage of USAID funds that flow to local nonprofit organizations (or, for that matter, to local private businesses) through these indirect arrangements.

The bottom line is that twenty-seven months after the quake, we do not really know where the money has gone, let alone the number of lives saved, mistakes made, or services delivered.

 

CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD does not take institutional positions.

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