A government watchdog released a report Wednesday that found that an agency tasked by the Trump administration with helping fight the pandemic has not allocated any of the $ 100 million it was given to help address supply chain problems. COVID-19 supply.
The Trump administration in May 2020 ordered the U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to distribute $ 100 million in loans from Pentagon funds through the CARES Act, the stimulus bill passed in the wake of the pandemic, to “finance the national production of strategic resources.” necessary to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and strengthen any relevant national medical supply chain, ”according to DFC website.
As part of that effort, companies were urged to apply for loans for projects that would help generate needed goods and services during the pandemic, and “sustain industries critical to the health sector and public health.”
According to a new report From the Government Accountability Office (GAO), since the Pentagon-funded loan program began in June 2020, the DFC has not allocated any money, despite having received 178 applications within that timeframe.
The agency’s loan application portal has been stopped, according to NBC News, and its ability to make loans related to the pandemic reportedly expires on March 26.
NBC News also noted that Adam Boehler, who was for a short time a former college roommate of President TrumpDonald Trump Biden sends 2016 climate treaty to Senate for ratification US and China ease restrictions on journalists Americans continue to spend MOREson-in-law and counselor Jared kushnerJared Corey KushnerWatchdog Cites 13 Trump Officials Who Violated the Hatch Act Ahead of 2020 Election McCain Criticizes Graham for Disproving Funeral Comment on Kushner, Ivanka Trump Trump Attacks Meghan McCain & Her Family MORE, headed DFC from fall 2019 until January 20, the day Trump left office. The agency was established in 2018 to help oversee private investments for government-funded projects in the developing world.
However, when COVID-19 began to spread in the US and health officials were looking for personal protective equipment, the agency reportedly increased its dominance to include supply chain reinforcement in the US. Through an executive order signed by Trump.
The GAO said they were informed by DFC that its loan review process had been taking longer than expected, prompting the group to review its procedures and begin prioritizing applications for medical-related projects.
Specifically, the agency said it had a difficult time trying to review the complex proposals, some of which required environmental assessments, according to NBC News.
Chelsa Kenney, author of the GAO report, told the network that the absence of loans created an “expectation gap” when it came to performance. He also said he believes the agency has narrowed the pool from 175 applications to eight, but the funds have not yet been allocated.
The watchdog has recommended that the agency, in consultation with the Pentagon, create a plan to evaluate the effectiveness of the loan program and “complete its methodologies to account for all reimbursable costs” of the plan.
The GAO said the agency has agreed with the second recommendation, but not the first.
DFC spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala told The Hill in a statement that the agency “has been providing loan support services for the DPA program,” including application processing and underwriting, but noted that the Pentagon “manages the program financing “while the loans are finally approved. by a board of interagency representatives of the US government.
“DFC is not the lead agency nor does it provide loan disbursements to businesses,” Jhunjhunwala said.
Jhunjhunwala also noted that the application processing time could take up to 18 months for “complex transactions”.
In a letter from DFC in response to the draft GAO report cited by NBC News, DFC Acting CEO Dev Jagadesan said that the “most key programmatic authorities, including budget authority over transactions and administrative costs and approval of project eligibility and technical requirements reside with the interagency partners for this program: DOD and HHS. “