August 15, 2002 - NPCA List Serv: NPCA reports on GAO Report

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2002: 08 August 2002 Peace Corps Headlines: August 15, 2002 - NPCA List Serv: NPCA reports on GAO Report

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, August 16, 2002 - 10:44 am: Edit Post

NPCA reports on GAO Report

Read and comment on this message from the NPCA list serv on the recent GAO Report on Volunteer Safety and Security at:

GAO report on Peace Corps released July 25*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

GAO report on Peace Corps released July 25

On July 25 the GAO issued a report on the Peace Corps entitled “Initiatives for Addressing Safety & Security Challenges Hold Promise, but Progress Should be Assessed.” The report generated a critical story in the New York Times, which cited as a key statistic that the reported incidence of major physical assaults increased from 9 per 1000 “volunteer years” in the period from 1991-93 to 17 per 1000 in the period from 1998-2000. That story implied that Rep. Martin Meehan (D-MA), representing the Congressional district of Walter Poirier, who disappeared in Bolivia in February 2001, is critical of Administration plans to increase the Peace Corps. (Meehan is quoted as saying that “Afghanistan is a dangerous place.”) The Times carried a letter from Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez August 11, noting that the GAO report confirms that security is the highest Peace Corps priority, that a comprehensive system is in place for PCV protection, and that major new initiatives are underway, while adding that there has been no increase in major assaults in the last two years.

The GAO Report is pretty balanced, noting that the Agency has adopted a set of policies to deal with the security threat through training, secure housing, information dissemination, and monitoring. It notes that the Peace Corps is trying to cope with significant underreporting of crime by Volunteers with new efforts to encourage reporting and collect additional data. It also confirms an agency comment that the security program is disadvantaged by rapid staff turnover because of the legislatively imposed “five-year rule.” The Report concludes that performance is uneven on guidance, staff training, and application of oversight – a common GAO criticism of Federal agencies.

Peace Corps alumni agree that the safety and security of Volunteers must be a very high priority for the Agency, particularly given the global terrorist danger. However, it is not the only priority. Most RPCVs are wary of the imposition of new measures which might – in the name of safety – constrain Peace Corps Volunteers from doing an effective job of relating to the people with whom they live and work. The NPCA urges the Peace Corps and all those who support its goals to keep in mind the importance of volunteers interacting freely with the peoples and communities they serve. It is what sets Peace Corps Volunteers apart and makes their service most worthwhile.

To read the abstract of the report or to download the report in PDF form, visit the GAO website at and search for report GAO-02-818.


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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Special Reports; RPCV - National Organizations; Peace Corps - Safety and Security



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