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USAID formally suspends contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan

USAID formally suspends work of major aid contractor in Afghanistan and Iraq amid accusations of mismanagement

The United States Agency for International Development has formally suspended the work of one of its contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan following accusations of mismanagement.

A USAID statement issued Monday said the decision was the result of investigations into “serious misconduct” by Arlington, Va.-based International Relief and Development.

Since it began operations in 2006, IRD -- which describes itself on its website as a nonprofit humanitarian and development organization -- has been awarded projects worth more than $1 billion in Afghanistan and $85.57 million in Iraq.

The ban, effective immediately, comes after a USAID review “revealed serious misconduct in IRD’s performance, management, internal controls and present responsibility,” the statement read.

IRD, which last year was USAID’s 25th largest contractor, said it was “cooperating fully” with the investigation.

“We are working on a response to USAID that will directly address the agency’s concerns, and reestablish confidence that federal taxpayer funds are being prudently managed by IRD,” said Roger Ervin, the group’s chief executive.

IRD is also under investigation for alleged mismanagement by the U.S. government's special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

The USAID's own inspector general found that 34% of the group's projects in Iraq failed to match any needs identified by the communities.

The USAID decision comes more than a week after Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called on the Obama administration to sever ties with IRD and another contractor.

In a Jan. 16 letter to Rajiv Shah, the head of USAID, Corker called the agency's “continued reliance on such organizations … questionable at best.”

Corker cited a case in which a former procurement director at IRD was indicted for “allegedly soliciting and accepting bribes in exchange for influencing the award of USAID-funded contracts in Afghanistan.”

Latifi is a special correspondent.

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