‘Substantial’ amount of USAID contracts should go to co-ops

March 3, 2020

Congress should ensure the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awards a fair and substantial amount of its direct awards and contracts to small, U.S.-based not-for-profit voluntary organizations such as credit unions and other cooperatives, CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle wrote this week. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs conducted a hearing Tuesday to review the FY2021 budget for USAID.

“We urge you to ensure that the USAID commits to, and reports to Congress on, utilizing a fair and substantial use of civil society partners such as US credit union organizations in furtherance of US foreign policy and assistance mission,” the letter reads.

The letter notes that USAID direct funding is “increasingly concentrated with a small number of large organizations,” with 60% of its contracts and grants to 25 firms and 80% of its contracts and grants to 75 firms in 2017, according to its own report.

In 2018, the concentration among the 75 firms reportedly increased to 83%.

“It is often difficult for small US-based non-profit organizations such as World Council of Credit Unions to access to USAID funding. WOCCU is uniquely situated to assist USAID in addressing the geopolitical and U.S. foreign policy concerns,” Nussle wrote. “The WOCCU network delivers private assistance and training through 70,000 volunteers and 300,000 employees at United States local, community-owned credit unions.”

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) wrote a bipartisan letter signed by nine other members of Congress in November 2019 making the same request as CUNA, calling on USAID to complete its procurement reform process in a manner that ensures a fair and substantial proportion of awards and contracts made by USAID are awarded to small, U.S.-based, not-for-profit, and civil-society based organizations, including credit unions.