Changes Needed in the Administration of the Overseas Food Donation Program

Gao ID: ID-79-25 October 15, 1979

A report assessed the performance of the U.S. food donation program abroad in terms of the congressional objectives of assisting needier countries and people and contributing to the development process. The program began under Title II of the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954. The "New Directions" foreign assistance legislation of 1973 mandates that U.S. aid be used for programs aimed directly at improving the lives of the poorest people in the poorest countries.

An investigation of the overseas food donation program revealed that congressional priorities were not being met. Shortcomings in the voluntary-agency and host-country storage, transport, and distribution networks and commodity availability restricted the program. In addition, the program was not coordinated with the U.S. development assistance program. The study showed that, in the existing management arrangements, the Agency for International Development (AID), the Department of Agriculture, and the Office of Management and Budget shared most operational decision-making authority. This system was found to fragment the authority of AID to conduct the program, to cloud accountability for the use of Title II monies, and to inhibit accomplishment of the "New Directions" mandates. A recently-enacted Title III of the 1954 act, which provides for partial crediting of payments for U.S. agricultural commodities in exchange for arrangements to apply equivalent amounts of currency to agreed-upon development projects, was reviewed but not included in formal recommendations pending closer study.


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