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Haiti Recovery Cloaked in Secrecy


Damage caused by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

A little less than a month ago, the U.S. officially wrapped up the $155-million Haiti Recovery Initiative (HRI), which supported the country as it grappled with the long-term effects of the 2010 earthquake that took hundreds of thousands of lives. Three years later, with all those dollars spent, there remains a startling lack of transparency about where the money went and what exactly was accomplished.

According to a blog post on the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s website, the recovery effort was contracted out through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Office of Transition Initiatives to Chemonics International and Development Alternatives Inc.

U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Pamela White called the program a success. Her evaluation, though, contradicts the September 2012 USAID Inspector General audit, which found HRI was “not on track” to finish on schedule.

When FOIA requests were made to find out more about how contractors spent the money, USAID refused the requests. The ruling was then appealed. From The Center for Economic and Policy Research:

USAID responded in July, upholding their decision and in fact going even further, reissuing the document that had previously been released, with the entire Statement of Work redacted (the previous version had redacted just part of it)…USAID justifies the lack of transparency by stating that “if the information is released, we believe that the information will be used selectively and out of context,” and that “to release the information in such a way could willfully stir up false allegations about the HRI and cause strife within target communities.” Finally, USAID notes that the “release of the information in the Statement of Work would likely instigate demonstrations and create an unsafe environment in which to implement and/or develop programs.”

However contractors spent that money, the information needs to be released- especially considering’s USAID’s efforts to keep things secret. The public deserves to know how far their dollars went towards helping Haitians after the devastating natural disaster.

Image from the United Nations Development Programme.

By: Avery Kleinman
Beth Daley Impact Fellow, POGO

Avery Kleinman At the time of publication Avery Kleinman was the Beth Daley Impact Fellow for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: Open Government

Related Content: Government Secrecy, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Information Access

Authors: Avery Kleinman

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