One of Ivanka Trump’s main initiatives – a legislative overhaul of aid programs for small businesses run by women around the world – has been so poorly managed by a federal agency that an independent watchdog has failed was able to determine if it actually worked.
In a report released Thursday, the Government Accountability Office found that the Act-funded programs on entrepreneurship and women’s economic empowerment, which Ms Trump, the eldest daughter of former President Donald J. flawed and hampered by poor surveillance.
Officials at the US Agency for International Development, which oversaw $ 265 million a year in spending for the initiative and an associated poverty reduction program, never developed an “explicit definition” of who was eligible. to receive millions of aid, according to the report.
The aid agency was also unable to determine the percentage of funding going to “the very poor and to businesses owned, managed and controlled by women,” the authors concluded after a 14-month audit, which covered actions taken under the Obama and Trump administrations. .
The GAO recommended that the United States Agency for International Development make six major changes to revise the programs. Agency executives, who were appointed by the Biden administration, said they plan to implement them.
Ms. Trump did not directly oversee the program, but she did promote her role in expanding federal assistance programs to target women entrepreneurs, and vowed to “ rigorously monitor the execution and effectiveness of the ‘money we were spending,’ in an interview in early 2019.
Ms Trump’s actions, including passing the 2018 law and creating another reform initiative, the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Fund, were aimed at addressing issues that predated her involvement, said Julie Radford, former chief of staff to Mrs. Trump.
“Ivanka pushed for the passage of the bipartisan WEEE law to ensure accountability for how taxpayers’ money is spent,” Ms. Radford said in an interview. “This is clearly long overdue, as evidenced by the GAO report.”
Republicans have frequently cited Ms. Trump’s actions on women’s programs to argue that Mr. Trump, with the help of his daughter, is working hard for women.
“@IvankaTrump played a decisive role in the #WEEEAct a priority, “Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, wrote on Twitter in 2019 – saying the measure” would empower women around the world. “
But the GAO portrayed the program in a different light, particularly in how the agency administered the 50 percent of the law’s funding that was supposed to be spent on eradicating extreme poverty.
Investigators, who interviewed agency workers in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe, reported that these workers “had not received any guidance” from senior officials on how to define “the very poor”. hampering aid delivery efforts.
Representative Lois Frankel, a Democrat from Florida who co-sponsored the original legislation, acknowledged the flaws in the program, but said the reporting requirement she helped enshrine in the 2018 law, which motivated the GAO’s audit, was key to making a difference.
“It is important that Congress continues to monitor efforts to ensure that the agency continues to improve its programs and activities targeting women and the very poor,” Frankel said in an emailed statement.