In response to the GAO recommendation, USAID began to ensure that performance monitoring plans include indicators of impact. For example, in its performance monitoring plans, one revised in March 2009 and one covering 2010-2015, USAID included a results framework that includes clearly stated goals and indicators that help track progress toward the goals. USAID also sets annual targets to establish expected benefits and to compare against actual results. USAID also said they perform feasibility studies and have made efforts to increase staff and strengthen its estimation and analysis of project costs. In September 2010, a USAID contractor completed a cost-benefit analysis that developed and implemented an analysis framework that attempted to quantify the expected benefits of the Strategic Provincial Roads in Southern and Eastern Afghanistan program, but also to “provide a replicable evaluation methodology that can be adopted and applied to other, comparable, road developments in Afghanistan.”
In response to the GAO recommendation, USAID took a number of actions, including the completion of several impact assessments of completed road projects. After GAO issued this recommendation, USAID completed socio-economic impact assessments for the Kabul-Kandahar Road, Kandahar-Herat Road, Keshim-Fayzabad Road, and its Provincial and District Roads program. In addition, USAID completed a socio-economic baseline study for its Bamyan-Dushi Road. According to a cost-benefit analysis released by USAID in September 2010, USAID?s contractor developed a “replicable evaluation methodology that can be adopted and applied to other, comparable, road developments in Afghanistan.”
DoD took steps just prior to our report issuance to implement this recommendation by including a requirement for project evaluation upon updating its Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) guidance. Specifically, the June 2008 CERP-guidance required project proposals to include performance metrics and indicators; these indicators were to be used as part of the project close-out process for evaluating projects upon completion.
To demonstrate USAID’s continued work with the Afghan government in addressing maintenance needs, USAID met with Afghan ministry officials in 2010 to discuss, for example, USAID and Afghan government joint efforts to institutionalize and fund road maintenance. USAID and Afghan officials reviewed the action plan for creating a national road authority and road fund and the timing of activities was clarified. USAID committed to provide technical legal assistance to help establish them. USAID and Afghan officials also discussed site tours for senior Afghan government officials to see how maintenance was being successfully implemented by Afghan contractors. These meetings follow other steps USAID has taken to implement our recommendation. For example, USAID helped establish a Road Maintenance Unit (RMU). According to USAID, consultants work with Ministry counterparts at the RMU to plan and implement performance-based road maintenance contracts. USAID said about 48 provincial staff from the Ministry of Public Works were involved in monitoring the road conditions and field related works and received two days of training each month on topics such as performance-based contracting, procurement procedures, road maintenance, development of a multi-year investment plan, and cost estimation. USAID said they have discussed other issues with Afghan government officials, including a gas tax, vehicle licensing, and truck weigh station fees as possible revenue streams to fund road maintenance.
In April 2012, USAID reported that no new road construction contracts had been awarded since the recommendations of GAO’s audit were made final, because USAID’s development focus in Afghanistan has changed. However, USAID has shown an effort to write road maintenance into contracts to protect its investments in roads. In addition to a $10 million task order to develop a road maintenance program, USAID awarded a 90-day contract on March 11, 2012 to specifically address maintenance issues on the road from Gardez to Khost.
DoD concurred with GAO’s recommendation and issued revised guidance that required the DoD officials to ensure that a project is documented in all required databases at completion.
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