Organizations that apply for certain USAID contracts and grants in five countries are required to provide personal information on staff and subcontractors for the purpose of vetting by the U.S. government, which involves running the information through intelligence databases. In Decemver 2016 InterAction published a study finding there is insufficient justification for a global rollout of the Partner Vetting System (PVS). SEe Partner Vetting Independent Assessment: Insufficient Justification for a Global Rollout.
USAID first announced its intention to create this Partner Vetting System (PVS) in 2007. Despite widespread criticism that PVS would create unnecessary and potentially dangerous conditions for humanitarian groups working in global hot spots, officials from the State Department and USAID presented details about a pilot PVS program in September 2011.
At the same time, the U.S. State Department runs a parallel program known as the Risk Analysis and Management (RAM) program. Under RAM, direct recipients of State Department funds under Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration solicitations in pilot countries must undergo vetting requirements as a condition of the award.
USAID published its final PVS rule for acquisitions in 2012 and a rule for assistance in 2015. The rules are almost identical and direct USAID to use a risk-based assessment to determine whether a particular award is subject to vetting. If so, key individuals and applicants must submit USAID Form 500-13, which allows the agency to run key individuals of the organization and its subrecipients though secret U.S. government databases to determine whether any of them are linked to terrorism. For those awards subject to the vetting process, only those individuals and organizations cleared through this process are eligible to receive the award.
Comments submitted to proposals for the PVS rules were resoundingly against them. To date, USAID has been largely dismissive of these comments and other criticism of the program.