Children’s AIDS Fund Received PEPFAR Grant Despite Expert Committee’s Ruling That Request Was ‘Not Suitable for Funding’U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Andrew Natsios last year approved a grant from the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief for the not-for-profit group Children's AIDS Fund even though the expert committee that reviews PEPFAR grant applications found that the group's proposal to "promote abstinence" among African youth was "not suitable for funding," the Washington Post reports (Brown, Washington Post, 2/16). PEPFAR is a five-year, $15 billion program that directs funding for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria to 15 focus countries (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/4). Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on Tuesday sent a letter to U.S. Ambassador Randall Tobias, head of the State Department's Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, seeking details about CAF's grant application and why it was approved. On Oct. 5, 2004, PEPFAR awarded grants totaling $100 million to 11 programs in a category titled "HIV/AIDS Prevention Through Abstinence and Healthy Choices for Youth," and an expert panel employed by USAID to review the merits of the applications ranked the Children's AIDS Fund proposal as the 12th best and said the proposal was "not suitable for funding" because of "technical issues," according to the Post. However, Natsios in a letter dated Oct. 21, 2004, recommended that Tobias approve a grant for CAF because the proposed project would allow the government to work closely with Ugandan first lady Janet Museveni, according to the Post. Tobias later approved the grant. Two unnamed USAID officials said on Tuesday that the "scope of the work" and the grant amount awarded to CAF are "still under negotiation," according to the Post. However, the grant likely will be about $9 million, the Post reports.
J. Edward Fox, USAID assistant administrator for legislative and public affairs, said, "The basic core components [of the application] are so compellingly good that it is worth our efforts to work with them to come up with a proposal that we can all support." However, Waxman said he thought it was "peculiar to have this kind of situation where so much money is involved and there is so little transparency in how it is being disbursed." Natsios' October 2004 letter said that CAF would conduct work in Zambia and South Africa, but the unnamed USAID officials said that could change, according to the Post. CAF President Anita Smith is traveling in Africa and could not be reached for comment, the Post reports (Washington Post, 2/16).