Tuesday, February 25, 2014

U.S. Democratic Party arm criticized in Haiti project for spending on big foreign salaries

EXCLUSIVE: An arm of the Democratic Party chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, that aims to support democracy in foreign countries, has been sharply criticized by an important donor for spending nearly 40 percent of the budget of a project in disaster-battered Haiti on foreign salaries and Washington office overhead, rather than on the field staff and equipment the project required.

The National Democratic Institute is a non-profit arm of the Democratic Party that maintains more than 60 offices abroad and works in non-partisan fashion, according to its website, “to support democratic elections, political parties, parliaments, civic engagement and women’s political empowerment.”

But at least in Haiti, the institute commonly known as NDI has been the subject of tough criticism from evaluators hired by one of its most respected donors: Norway.

In connection with a program intended to boost civilian influence on the priorities of Haiti’s ramshackle government, the evaluators took a harsh swipe at the salaries handed out to top NDI personnel on the ground in connection with the money spent on NDI personnel and other overhead back at its Washington headquarters, and, most importantly, at what the evaluators declared was “the lack of anything that ordinary Haitians would consider results.”

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