Wednesday, November 15, 2006

U.S. Cuba program Criticized in Report

In a report likely to feed critics of President Bush, congressional investigators said poor management and inadequate oversight hamper a U.S. government program designed to encourage democracy in Cuba.

The report also criticized USAID for awarding about 95 percent of the grants non-competitively and said the agency had failed to follow up after grants were awarded to "correct weakness" in the program.

The report, U.S. Democracy Assistance for Cuba Needs Better Management and Oversight, said the lack of adequate controls had increased the risk of "fraud, waste [and] abuse."

GAO investigators found that one U.S.-funded group ostensibly providing humanitarian aid to dissidents spent taxpayer funds on a "gas chain saw, computer gaming equipment [including Nintendo Game Boy and Sony Playstation units] and software, a mountain bike, leather coats, cashmere sweaters, crab meat, and Godiva chocolates."


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