Ivanka Trump's women's empowerment program slammed in government report

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© BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Ivanka Trump arrives to introduce her father, US President Donald Trump during a “Make America Great Again” rally at Total Sports Park on November 1, 2020, in Washington, Michigan. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty

  • A top Ivanka Trump initiative was deeply flawed and mismanaged, according to a new independent report.
  • The rollout of programs funded through a 2018 women’s empowerment bill failed at one agency.
  • Ivanka didn’t directly oversee the program but did promote her role in expanding aid to female workers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A policy program championed by Ivanka Trump, and aimed at assisting female-led small businesses around the globe, suffered from such poor agency oversight that the Government Accountability Office was unable to conclude how successful the program was – or even if it had worked at all.

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In a report released Thursday, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found that the rollout of the bipartisan Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act of 2018 was deeply flawed.

Former President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, helped promote the policy program and ushered the bill through Congress.

The US Agency for International Development oversaw the implementation of the initiative and was mandated to spend at least $265 million per year on assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises under the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act. Half of the money was meant to go to women, while the other half was required to go to the poor, according to Politico.

But Thursday’s report found that the agency never clearly defined what makes a business owned and run by women. Nor could the agency conclude the amount of funding that actually reached women-owned enterprises or the very poor.

Ivanka Trump was not responsible for directly overseeing the program, but she did help usher the legislation through Congress and in a 2019 interview vowed to “rigorously track the execution and efficacy of the money that we were spending,” according to The New York Times.

Weeks after President Trump signed the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act into law, Ivanka Trump oversaw the launch of another reform initiative, the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, aimed at providing a “whole-of-government” approach to financially boost poor, female entrepreneurs around the world.

According to Politico, Ivanka Trump praised the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative as “enabling us to rigorously track the execution and the efficacy of the money that we are spending.”

But the culmination of the Government Accountability Office’s 14-month audit made clear the opposite was happening at the Agency for International Development – one of ten agencies involved in the legislation’s implementation.

The report was particularly critical of the way the agency disbursed half of the act’s funding meant to target those in extreme poverty. Officials in Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe told investigators they “did not receive any guidance on how to define the very poor” or “guidance on any poverty measurement methods to assist them…” which hindered their ability to deliver aid.

As such, the agency was unable to “document its compliance” with the requirement that 50% of government resources be targeted to the very poor.

Rep. Louis Frankel of Florida, who co-sponsored the original legislation, told The Times a reporting requirement that she helped write into the law prompted the independent audit and was “essential in turning things around.

“It is important that Congress continue to monitor efforts to ensure that the agency continues to improve its programs and activities targeting women and the very poor,” the Democrat said in a statement to the outlet.

Thursday’s report included six recommendations for the agency, including that the agency identify the total funding requirements under the law; establish a clear definition of an enterprise owned, managed, and controlled by women; and ensure the reliability of its obligations data, among others.

According to the report, the Agency for International Development accepted all six recommendations.

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