Elsewhere online
September 16, 2015

Federal Inquiry Faults Red Cross Oversight, Calls for Audits

A report to be released Wednesday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office calls for "regular, external, independent" evaluations of the American Red Cross's operations and spending in the wake of media reports on the charity's response to disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, NPR reports.

The GAO recommendations are echoed in legislation introduced by Rep. Bennie Thompson that would mandate regular audits of the nonprofit by the Treasury and Homeland Security departments and the U.S. Agency for International Development. The Mississippi congressman, who requested the GAO review 18 months ago, said last month that Red Cross President Gail McGovern asked him in 2014 to stop the inquiry.

The Red Cross has resisted opening its books to outside entities, says NPR, which in tandem with ProPublica has published a series of investigative reports questioning the charity's claims about its spending and the effectiveness of its emergency response.

While largely privately funded, the Red Cross has an official Congress-chartered role in U.S. disaster-response plans. In a statement, the organization emphasized that it is not a federal agency and said it "believes there are several already existing mechanisms in place to evaluate our disaster response that provide considerable oversight," such as its ombudsman office, board of directors, and regular after-action reviews.