NGO Response: CNFA Reaffirms Commitment to Transparency

Editor's note: We emailed every organization mentioned in Till Bruckner's recent blog post, The accidental NGO and USAID Transparency Test to ask for their comment. CNFA sent us a response (also posted on their website) this afternoon, which we are reproducing here in full: Transparency and accountability are core values of CNFA. Our programs are designed to be cost-effective – producing maximum output for the least cost. CNFA is fully accountable to our clients, compliant with our donors' policies and procedures, and responsible to our beneficiaries. Our program management practices are broadly inclusive and transparent, involving all relevant stakeholders, donors, partners and policymakers. This is all a matter of "practicing what we preach." CNFA's most important goal, implemented through our programs, is to encourage local partner institutions to adopt transparent business practices, for the purpose of promoting private investment and commercial finance.

Recently it has been suggested that CNFA's choice not to release financial proposal data falls short of this commitment to transparency. In reality, the competitive process used by USAID and most other donors to award contracts is designed to foster innovation, lower costs, improve efficiency, and generate better long-term results. CNFA firmly believes that our unique approach to economic development has been demonstrated to improve rural incomes by promoting entrepreneurship as well as empowering the private sector to lead to economic growth and expanding commercial agriculture and agribusiness. So, given the highly competitive environment for donor-funded grants and contracts, CNFA is naturally reluctant to provide its proprietary information, including its cost approach, publicly to everyone, including its competitors. This does not mean that CNFA hides this information from its donors or does not comply with all reporting requirements imposed by them.

The program in question, the Georgia Agricultural Risk Reduction Program (GARRP), was part of the US Government's $1 billion pledge to aid Georgia's recovery following the 2008 war with Russia. Of the $19.5 million total program cost, $16.5 million, or 85%, went directly into the hands of Georgian farmers and businesses for the purchase of agricultural inputs and services. In turn, GARRP helped nearly 40,000 conflict-affected families stay on their farms and produce crops worth over $70 million at harvest, speeding the recovery of their livelihoods and their return to economic independence.

CNFA has always been and remains committed to delivering the best value to the U.S. taxpayer, to all its donors and to the beneficiaries of the programs we implement around the world. We believe that our results, our success in competitive donor awards and our publicly available financial records speak for themselves.