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[casi] CARE criticizes US-May 10

CARE official faults Bush for corporate contracts

Jonathan Curiel, Chronicle Staff Writer   Saturday, May 10, 2003

A top official with the humanitarian organization CARE criticized the Bush
administration Friday, saying the U.S. government's rebuilding efforts in
Iraq and Afghanistan have favored private corporations over established
nonprofits that have long-standing ties to the countries.

Kevin Henry, CARE USA's advocacy director, said the Bush administration is
the first in recent U.S. history to rely more on for-profit corporations
than nongovernmental organizations to rebuild crucial areas of a devastated
foreign country. Henry's complaint centers on U.S.-funded social and
community projects.

"Obviously, there's a pattern here," Henry said in an interview in San
Francisco. "This administration has the utmost confidence in the military
and the private sector -- and basically anyone else is suspect. . . . In
Afghanistan, they didn't even really invite NGOs to compete for funding."

Last month, after American troops entered Baghdad, the U.S. government gave
a major Iraqi education contract to Creative Associates International, a
private Washington, D.C., consulting firm that also was awarded a major
education contract for Afghanistan last year.

CARE, which has operated in Afghanistan since 1961, had bid on the
Afghanistan project, Henry said, as part of a "strong consortium that
included most of the NGOs on the ground who had worked in the education
sector" as well as the University of Nebraska at Omaha, which had expertise
in producing textbooks in Afghanistan in the native languages of Pashto and

"We were just stunned by their decision," he said.

Neither the White House nor the U.S. Agency for International Development,
which administers many of the government's international aid projects,
returned calls for comment Friday.

Other organizations, such as InterAction, an association of nonprofit groups
, also have complained about the Bush administration's emphasis on
for-profit corporations. Several weeks ago, representatives of
nongovernmental organizations met with Agency for International Development
officials, Henry says, to "register our protest and concern about this

Henry acknowledged that the U.S. government is making an effort to involve
nongovernmental organizations to some extent in Iraq, and CARE USA has not
been shut out completely. Since the war ended, the U.S. government has given
the Atlanta organization $4 million for its programs in the country, Henry

But what alarms Henry is the disproportionate funding levels for private and
nonprofit projects.

"Right up front, they have provided funding to six of the leading
nongovernmental organizations to do a range of relief and immediate
reconstruction activities. Now, that might amount to, in total, $50
million -- whereas the Bechtel contract alone could end up being worth over
$700 million. And they may put out as much as $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion
in big private-sector contracts," he said.

E-mail Jonathan Curiel at

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