Former first daughter Ivanka Trump had a pet project for global women's empowerment that would use U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help extremely poor women across the world through ten different government agencies.
Trump launched her Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative at global conferences and it became part of the Women's Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act of 2018 at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Politico reported Wednesday.
According to the damning report from the Government Accountability Office, the goal of the program was a "cohesive program 'enabling us to rigorously track the execution and the efficacy of the money that we are spending,' the GAO's 14-month audit demonstrates that, at least at USAID, the opposite was happening," the report said.
There were at least 19 new women's empowerment programs launched in 2019 as part of the program, but Politico explained that "there were extensive failures in both the targeting of the money, and the measurement of its impact."
A former Trump official tried to blame former President Barack Obama, claiming that when Trump's team took office, "everything was scattered with no real clear goal or purpose. That is not a good use of taxpayer dollars and doesn't help people anywhere."
Things were likely scattered because different programs have different aims and target different parts of the world for different reasons. Many global programs include a women's empowerment initiative. Trying to pull those programs out to consolidate all of them under one umbrella may seem like a reasonable solution, but it begins an entirely different bureaucracy without the experts necessary to implement it, track it, and ensure accountability. After all, USAID has just 20 career-officials navigating a hefty weight of work.
"Ivanka Trump and her team spent two years developing the broader W-GDP program, which they say helped 12.6 million people in 2019 alone," they claimed. The GAO report paints a different picture.
One of Trump's major efforts was to empower Colombian women, but there were problems there too.
"The GAO singled out USAID's Colombian funding of a Productive Entrepreneurship for Peace program and a Rural Finance Initiative as examples of projects with important general inclusion goals, which also failed to meet the WEEE Act requirement to fund the very poor directly," said Politico.
"USAID has not defined and does not collect information necessary to meet its statutory targeting requirements," the GAO report explained. It also said that they failed to "obtain survey responses from 26 of its 47 bureaus around the world on how they distributed funding."