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Are Haitians Getting A Fair Crack at Rebuilding their Nation?

February 24, 2010

Global Voices led me to this post on Haiti Vox, which queries “who’s getting the first Haiti contracts”.

I’m wondering who’s awarding these contracts. You’d think that the government of a nation would have the final say in awarding contracts to rebuild that nation, but that would appear to be unclear.

Here’s what Haiti Vox has to say:

Since many Haitians (and others like me) aren’t familiar with the Federal Procurement Data system for government and inter-agency contracts, it’s important for us to widely circulate this information, and to HELP Haitian groups who may want to apply but may not have the expertise to write these grants.

It’s also important for Haiti watchers who are promoting transparency and equity and want to make sure Haitian community groups get a share of the pie to communicate with US officials and folks at the Federal Procurement Data System to ask that any Communication about contracts get sent to Haitian media.

So I went to the source linked in the blog article. Here’s what it has to say:

With the Inter-American Development Bank saying that the reconstruction of Haiti could cost upwards of $14 billion, and with billions in aid already coming in to Haiti, it is vitally important to keep a close eye on where that money is being spent.

The Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation, has set up a function where you can track contracts awarded for Haiti related work. The list, however, is not exhaustive; there is a message on the site saying that the list only “represents a portion of the work that has been awarded to date.”  For instance the US Agency for International Development lists only two contracts totaling just under $150,000. USAID, however, says that through the Office of Transition Initiatives they have already given $20 million to three companies: Chemonics, Internews, and Development Alternatives Inc. The reality may be that these companies have received even more money than that though. The Miami Herald reported on February 8 that:

The U.S. Agency for International Development has given two assignments for Haiti-related work to two beltway firms involved in international development: Washington, D.C.-based Chemonics International and Bethesda, Md.-based Development Alternatives Inc.

The emergency work assignments, which are worth $50 million each, are likely the first of many the agency will hand out to private firms to help Haiti get on its feet after the devastating quake Jan. 12.

The article also notes that these were non-competitive contracts.

Contractors in Haiti, ready to Profit from Disaster?

So who gets to award the contracts, and who gets to benefit? In our discussion on the radio, callers suggested that Haitians in the diaspora should go back to Haiti to help build their nation. But can they? What is the implication of these stories?

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