In 2020, former President Donald Trump tasked a government agency with giving loans to help ease supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic — but that agency hasn’t spent a single penny of the $100 million it received, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently found.
GAO released Wednesday’s report showing that the International Development Finance Corporation had received 178 loan applications since June 2020, when it first received the funds. However, with loan reviews taking longer than expected — and with the agency continually extending the expected response time — the only money the DFC has requested for reimbursement so far has been for payroll and internal services, totalling about $1.4 million.
The DFC website says that the money, allocated under an executive order signed by Trump in May of last year, was given “to finance the domestic production of strategic resources needed to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, and to strengthen any relevant domestic medical supply chains.”
Companies manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE), like gloves, masks and COVID tests, are one example of a project that might be eligible for loans.
Researchers say the program was initiated in the midst a severe shortage of PPE. largely the result ofSupply chain problems. Some health care workers had PPE to make due with the severe shortages. wearing trash bagsTo protect themselves, they used snorkel masks and other protective gear as the pandemic progressed.
Also, COVID tests were rare. Many health care facilities were not equipped to handle COVID testing at the outbreak. allowed people with symptomsBecause of testing shortages, it is difficult to get tested. It’s still difficult to find COVID testing at-home. partially due to a lack of government support.
The Defense Production Act allocated the money to address these problems. Obscure wartime lawUsed to force companies to produce certain equipment. The $100 million DFC has been allocated for COVID loans is as such part of the Department of Defense’sFunds from the 2020 CARES Act
The DFC was formed in 2019As a result of a Trump-issued executive orders merged two separate agencies. Under Trump, the DFC was run by Adam Boehler, a college friend of Jared Kushner’s who was previously an adviser in the Department of Health and Human Services, according to NBC.
According to the GAO’s assessment, the DFC has narrowed down the applications to just eight applicantsBut, he has yet to issue a single loan. Officials say that they failed to account for issues they’ve faced in administering the program, like regulatory processes, hiring new staff and interagency process timelines.
A spokesperson for the DFC has disputed the GAO report, saying that it “inaccurately portrays DFC’s particular role” in the program. Pooja Jihunwala, spokesperson for DFC, said that DFC is responsible for certain parts of the program. However the Department of Defense oversees the funding.
NBCApiJect is the company that is close to being accepted, according to reports. But according to the GAO, ApiJect’s project to build a new facility to make vaccine-related equipment has run into delays because the company has not yet secured “the necessary property rights for the project site.”
Meanwhile, the portal to apply for loans under the program has been paused — and the agency will lose its ability to give out COVID-related loans at the end of March 2022.