The South Asia Channel

UNDP Responds to LOFTA Criticisms

UNDP Responds to LOFTA Criticisms

The authors of the article “Ghani, UNDP, and the NYT: Who Really ‘Overreached’ on Paying the Afghan Police?” selectively quote from publicly available reports, such as the January 2015 report by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, but fail to mention that the findings and recommendations were directed at the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A), UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), and the Government of Afghanistan, who each play a role in administering the Afghan National Police (ANP) payroll. Contrary to their claim that management issues “were never effectively addressed,” UNDP has taken continuous measures to improve its systems, management structures, and staff capacity to ensure proper oversight on the Law and Order Trust Fund for Afghanistan (LOTFA).

In coordination with partners, LOTFA has expanded and strengthened its oversight capacity, as related to processes and procedures of the payroll system. It has broadened its scope of work to address the Afghan government’s Human Resources Management System issues, such as ID card validation and pension fund management, which are impacting the efficient and transparent management of the payroll system. Working with CSTC-A, data verification capacity has been upgraded to reduce the scope for miscalculation and payroll inconsistencies. It should also be noted that facilitating the ANP payroll is but one portion of a larger program that supports the government’s efforts to build the capacity of the ANP, increase its accountability and internal oversight, build vital infrastructure, support the shift from fighting the insurgency to community/civilian policing, and strengthen the role of women within the police force.

To design effective oversight and efficiency measures, UNDP carried out its own regular audits on LOTFA, and has welcomed external reviews and assessments. In fact, some of the article’s data dates back to information from 2012 and does not take into account the series of management improvements and enhanced oversight mechanisms that have been put in place since then.

It is true that LOTFA is UNDP’s largest project, which is not surprising given the high level of donor financing needed to meet the ANP payroll. The cost recovery rate agreed to by donors reflects the management expenses involved in handling such a complex project and is less than the overhead rate charged by other agencies or for-profit organizations.

UNDP has enhanced its collaboration with and between the Government of Afghanistan and CSTC-A to improve data quality and oversight, as well as to build national capacity and phase out UNDP’s support over time. This process is underway. As a change agent, UNDP embraces change and builds the capacity of its partner countries, so they can do the same.

Photo credit: WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP/Getty Images