9.1 Overseeing donor funds: Inspector General systems
Government agencies, especially in the United States, have long used inspectors and auditors to monitor and verify the delivery of development and humanitarian assistance schemes. The activities of the USAID Office of the Inspector General (OIG), for example, resulted in discovery of a collusion and kickbacks scheme between vendors and implementers of USAID-funded humanitarian aid programmes in Syria; as a result, 6 implementing companies were debarred.
The high costs of missions in Iraq and Afghanistan and the expenditure of billions of dollars on reconstruction in both countries, prompted the creation of standing Inspector General offices for US overseas deployments. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) and Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) were the first two instances in which inspector general offices were dedicated to particular missions, overseeing the expenditure of all mission funds, from development to military.
The US Congress has now institutionalised the IG system for overseas operations, requiring a Lead Inspector General for every operation lasting longer than 60 days. The mandate of the Lead IG includes ‘oversight of contracts, operations, governance, humanitarian and development assistance, and intelligence’; the Lead IG personnel deploy in the field to monitor operations. The role is performed by personnel drawn from IG offices at the State Department, the Defense Department, and USAID. Its effectiveness, however, has not yet been tested; it is also unclear whether drawing on regular IG units will be more effective than an external oversight team with a specific mandate and few close relationships in the departments whose work it oversees.
Case Study: Afghanistan: Corruption and the making of warlords
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)
By 2007, SIGIR performed work which led to 5 arrests and 4 convictions. It has coordinated with other defence-wide institutions to establish the International Contract Corruption Task Force (ICCTF) and open a Joint Operations Centre, focusing on gathering and dissemination of intelligence in order to improve cooperation between investigators. In Afghanistan, SIGAR has audited US-funded military and development programmes. By mid-2017, after 9 years of existence, SIGAR had reported that its investigations had brought about 112 criminal convictions and about $1.1 billion in criminal fines, forfeitures, recoveries of costs through settlements and U.S. government cost savings. SIGAR has also put together lessons learned reports on addressing corruption in conflict and building up Afghan security and defence forces.View case study
Case Study: Corruption and UN peace operations
UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS)
Within the UN system, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) has been responsible for investigations into misconduct by deployed UN personnel. OIOS investigations have uncovered corruption in mission hiring and procurement across UN peace operations; inspectors have also investigated cases of sexual exploitation and abuse. While the outcomes of its investigations have confirmed the utility of OIOS, the Office has been challenged by resource shortages and lack of independence.View case study
- Audit units