The Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent federal agency, has released a wide-ranging new report outlining failures in the effective implementation of a program that Ivanka Trump helped lead and, on paper, has been meant to support women entrepreneurs around the world. Ivanka helped initiate a program called the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative after then-President Donald Trump signed the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act of 2018, but according to this new GAO report, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) failed to confirm that their arm of the program was satisfying key requirements.
Ivanka’s initiative, POLITICO explains, “aimed to codify gender analysis and deliver targeted finance across the women’s programs of 10 U.S. Government agencies,” with “the hope… that poor women entrepreneurs would receive the financial kick-start they needed to build a business.” USAID was allocated $265 million a year to distribute according to the terms of the underlying legislation that then-President Trump signed, and half of this money was designated for women and half for those who are “very poor,” with some “overlap… between the groups… expected,” POLITICO explains.
Nevertheless, “extensive failures in both the targeting of the money, and the measurement of its impact” were recorded at USAID, as summarized by POLITICO. USAID “was unable to say what proportion of funds went to the very poor, and women-owned and managed businesses” and “couldn’t even define what actually constitutes a business owned and run by women,” according to POLITICO, although these aims constitute a major point of the funds! As summarized by the GAO, USAID “has not defined and does not collect information necessary to meet its statutory targeting requirements” for the funds.
While serving as an adviser to her father in the White House, Ivanka Trump didn’t have considerable tangible authority over USAID during this haphazard distribution of funds, but she and her team nevertheless failed to establish the meaningful oversight that could have helped thwart these systematic problems. The GAO shared six recommendations for updates to USAID procedures in order to address the problems, and the international aid agency accepted all of the recommendations, they said. Some of the documented problems with funds distribution stretched back to slightly before the Trump era.
Like her father, Ivanka had no formal political experience whatsoever before assuming her role in the presidential administration. Perhaps past political experience — at any level at all — could have adequately prepared her for the logistical challenges of the implementation of hundreds of millions of dollars in spending of federal funds. Instead, it’s apparently unclear whether huge swathes of the money even went to the people who it was meant for.