This is sure to raise your blood pressure…
The largest nonprofit contractor working for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan sent the U.S. government a $1.1 million bill to cover the tab on lavish parties and retreats held at some of the most luxurious destinations on the east coast.
Arlington, Virginia-based International Relief and Development (IRD) received hundreds of millions in government contracts between 2007 and 2010 for work in Iraq and Afghanistan and aid for impoverished nations worldwide. At the same time, IRD executives were using the government’s overhead account to pay for high-class parties and retreats, including three at the five-star Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania.
According to a Washington Post report, IRD spent $484,338 on the Nemacolin retreats at a time when the U.S. was pouring billions into war spending. IRD billed the expenses as “training” and for “staff morale.” Worse yet; attendance for employees was mandatory, and over 100 IRD employees went to these retreats that included private rooms, gala dinner parties, open bars, free iPods and cameras…essentially anything employees wanted, they got, according to the Post report.
Here are just a few other instances of IRD’s excess:
- “Leadership” meetings at Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina – $58,828
- Awards reception at Newseum in Washington – $63,746
- Holiday party at Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on the Mall – $72,530
- Three 2010 parties at Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on the Mall
Former employees spoke on the record about IRD’s lavish spending, saying it felt “scandalous.” USAID suspended IRD from receiving federal contracts in January, citing “serious misconduct” when it came to the nonprofit’s spending. It has since hired a heavy-hitting lobbying firm to initiate a public relations offensive.