USAID suspends awards to Virginia-based contractor

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The main U.S. foreign assistance agency on Monday suspended awards to a non-governmental organization that has received more than $1 billion for its work in Afghanistan and Iraq the past nine years.

The U.S. Agency for International Development suspended awards to Arlington, Va.-based International Relief and Development, which five years ago was USAID's sixth largest contractor.

USAID said an agency review revealed "serious misconduct" in IRD's performance, management and internal controls.

"Over the past several years, the agency has increased oversight of its contracts and grants, and the suspension of IRD demonstrates USAID's continued commitment to accountability," USAID said in a statement. "The agency is aware that the USAID Office of the Inspector General is conducting an investigation of IRD."

A USAID official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the case, said USAID will take steps to recover mismanaged awards, which could amount to millions or more.

In 2010, IRD received about $631.5 million for work in Afghanistan, Iraq and other nations. Last year, it received $29.4 million, ranking as USAID's 25th largest contractor.

IRD said Monday that it is "cooperating fully" with USAID.

In a statement released by IRD, CEO Roger Ervin said, "We are working on a response to USAID that will directly address the agency's concerns, and re-establish confidence that federal taxpayer funds are being prudently managed by IRD."

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