Friday, March 13, 2015

Another Disgusting Update on IRD---the Nonprofit USAID Contractor

by Gary Snyder

The largest nonprofit contractor working for the U.S. Agency for International Development during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan billed the government $1.1 million for staff parties and pricey retreats.

International Relief and Development of Arlington, Va., collected hundreds of millions of dollars to work in the war zones and help impoverished nations around the world. At the same time — between 2007 and 2010 — its executives were using IRD’s government overhead account to fund the parties and retreats, according to financial records provided by IRD to The Washington Post.  

Three parties and retreats were held at one of the poshest destinations on the East Coast, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Pennsylvania, in the Allegheny Mountains near Fallingwater, the famous home designed over a waterfall by Frank Lloyd Wright. IRD spent $484,338 on those retreats at the height of U.S. war spending, billing the expenses to the government as “training” and “staff morale” items, according to the records and current and former employees.

Among the perks they received at Nemacolin: private rooms; open bars; gala dinner parties; free iPods at one retreat, Nikon Coolpix cameras at another; skeet-shooting outings at the resort’s Field Club; extreme-driving classes at its Jeep Off-Road Driving Academy; and complimentary $50 gift certificates to spend on clothing, jewelry, massages — whatever the employees wanted.

In addition to the retreats at Nemacolin, IRD spent $58,828 on “leadership” meetings at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina in Cambridge, Md. The nonprofit also billed the government $63,746 for an awards reception in October 2010 at the Newseum in Washington and $72,530 for a holiday party that December at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on the Mall.

In January, USAID suspended IRD from receiving any more federal work, citing other spending that involved “serious misconduct.” The suspension came in the wake of allegations of misspending highlighted in a Post investigation in May 2014

A new chief executive, Roger Ervin, took over at IRD in December and has forced seven of the nonprofit group’s longtime officers to resign and removed its board members. The nonprofit’s annual revenue from USAID has plummeted from $587 million in 2010 to $78 million last year.

Jean M. Hacken had been hired that year as the nonprofit’s chief compliance officer. “They were spending so much money,” said Hacken, who left IRD in December. “I really didn’t understand. It seemed very lavish to me. I didn’t think a nonprofit organization should be doing that.”

Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Charity Navigator, Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio (NPR), Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), “Betrayal”, (a movie), NBC (on Charity Fraud…TBD), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Marie Claire, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, Charity Navigator, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, Board Room Insider, USA Today Topics, Accountants News,, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times, Portfolio Magazine, The Virgin Islands Daily News, NANKAI (China) BUSINESS REVIEW, National Religious Broadcasters newsletter, The Charity Governance Blog, American Chronicle, Palm Beach Post, Detroit Free Press, Oakland Press, Nonprofit World, Socially Responsible Business Forum, PNNOnline, Ohio Nonprofit Resources, Nonprofit Good Practice Guide, Nonprofit Startup Guide, Nonprofit Blog, National Coalition of Homeless Newsletter, Finance and Administration Roundtable Newsletter,, CORP! Magazine, Crain’s Michigan Nonprofit,, PhilanTopic, Nashville Free Press, Nonprofit Law Blog, Seniors World Chronicle, Carnegie Reporter, Assoc. of Certified Fraud Examiners Examiner,, Worchester (MA) Telegram and Gazette, Carnegie Corporation of America, EO Tax Journal, Wikipedia: Non-profit Organizations; Parent: Wise Austin, Accountants News, Veterans Today,, Far-roundtable, #Nonprofit Report, nonprofithelpnews, nonprofit news; National Enquirer, Northwest Herald, The HelpWise Daily, The #Nonprofit Report, Wikipedia (Nonprofit Organization),, Nonprofits: On the Brink (2006) Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (2011)
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