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The Partner Vetting System (PVS) is a set of vetting procedures for individuals in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) who apply for United States Agency for International Development (USAID) or State Department contracts and grants, in order to ensure that USAID-funded activities are not inadvertently providing support to entities associated with terrorism. Under the proposed PVS pilot program, the U.S. government will collect and store personal data, including name, government identification number, date of birth, country of citizenship, home address, email address, employer information, and job title, from applicants who wish to use federal money for humanitarian purposes overseas. Numerous prominent NGOs oppose its implementation because it is built on flawed assumptions about how effective vetting is conducted.
PVS was first proposed in 2007 as a way to “conduct screening to ensure USAID funds and USAID-funded activities are not purposefully or inadvertently used to provide support to entities or individuals deemed to be a risk to national security.” It did not define what constitutes a "risk to national security" or provide any criteria used to deem an individual or group to be such a risk.
More recently, the State Department and USAID have said implementing a coordinated Partner Vetting System (PVS) pilot program is “consistent with the relevant language in the FY 2010 Appropriations Act, made applicable to FY 2011 activities pursuant to the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution.” In 2011 State and USAID issued additional notices in the Federal Register announcing the pilot program (see PVS overview page for all FR notices), inviting comments on the scope and costs of the burdens PVS would create for NGOs. However, these notices did not been provide specifics about the pilot plan.
On Sept. 8, 2011, State and USAID held a briefing to present the outline plan for a pilot PVS program in five countries. In the materials provided at the briefing, it says the “pilot activities are expected to commence in the first quarter of FY2012.” Additionally, the handout says State and USAID present expansion of the pilot program as a foregone conclusion, stating that a projected, “expected outcome” is the “validation of [the] risk-based model.”
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