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U.S. Food Aid Program Needs Boost, GAO Says

The Government Accountability Office outlines the challenges that the U.S. food aid program faces.

The Government Accountability Office says in an April report that the effectiveness of the U.S. food aid program has been limited by challenges ranging from overly expensive ocean transportation contracting to poor communication between food stockholders and government agencies.

The amount of funding spent on the U.S. food aid program was down in 2006, as was the amount of food the program sends to hunger-stricken areas. However, tonnage of food aid delivered was down proportionately more than funding levels, indicating increased inefficiency.

GAO listed the following as some of the main factors causing inefficiencies in U.S. food aid:

  • Funding and planning processes that increase delivery costs and lengthen time frames
  • Ocean transportation and contracting practices that create high levels of risk for ocean carriers, resulting increased rates
  • Legal requirements that result in awarding of food aid contracts to more expensive service providers
  • Inadequate coordination between U.S. agencies and food aid stakeholders to track and respond to food and delivery problems

GAO recommends The USAID administrator and the Secretaries of Agriculture and Transportation work to improve logistical planning, contracting, transportation, and other actions.

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