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U.S. Postpones System to Gather Private Information

August 28, 2007 — The U.S. government will postpone its plans to gather detailed personal information from staff at EngenderHealth and other international nonprofit organizations.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) had previously announced that it would use a new “Partner Vetting System” to compare private background information against intelligence databases and, without further explanation, deny funding to agencies that might be “associated with terrorism.” 

The proposed PVS would require recipients of USAID assistance, including EngenderHealth, to collect and submit personal information on its employees, Board members, and local implementing partners that receive USAID funding that flows through USAID recipient organizations. Numerous organizations that receive USAID funding objected to the proposed PVS for many compelling reasons.

In response to the criticisms, USAID convened a meeting of international nonprofit leaders. There, USAID announced that they are postponing the implementation of the system, and that they will go through a much more extensive and lengthy consultation process with partners, and pre-testing and evaluation of the system in one country (most likely West Bank/Gaza), before it is finalized and implemented more widely. USAID officials also acknowledged that there are many details to be worked out and that the issues raised by the USAID partner community will be seriously considered. It may be many months before USAID is ready to even pretest the system.

USAID will hold another consultation meeting about the proposed PVS, most likely in September. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and keep you advised about any significant developments. Meanwhile, the Washington Post has published another article about the proposed PVS and USAID’s reaction to the negative feedback.

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