Acronym Salad: Part I – USAID

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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the U.S. Government’s primary agency for international development and humanitarian assistance.  Given the breadth of its programming, the agency and its workers will often use short-hand notation to describe the offices in which they work and the programs that are carried out within.

In this edition of acronym salad, we will discuss two primary acronyms of use to potential development workers, IQC (Indefinite Quantity Contracts) and PVO (Private Voluntary Organizations)

Indefinite Quantity Contracts:

Indefinite Quantity Contracts are those contracts signed between a U.S. government agency and a large, generally private-sector firm, to carry out an indefinite amount of work over a specified period of time.  These are generally multi-year, multi-sector, multi-million dollar contracts.

Many of these contracts are awarded to large international development contractors.  According to a 2011 Devex Report,  the largest IQC holders received more than USD$ 4.7 Billion in AID funds.

For more detail on the type of IQC’s awarded, it may be useful to examine an older document on the full IQC listing.  While USAID continues to undergo their website transition, the best bet is to use the integrated search function to determine who continues to hold IQC’s and when contracts expire.

Private Voluntary Organizations

Private Voluntary Organizations are defined by USAID as tax-exempt nonprofits that leverage their expertise and private funding to address development challenges abroad.

PVO’s partner with USAID by carrying out grant- and award-funded activities, usually in a specific technical sector or geographic area. As of 7 September, there are more than 680 registered PVO’s eligible for USAID grant funding and program cooperation.

In many cases, PVO’s are the external actors which carry out USAID programming in the field.  For example, Save the Children (or a similar organization) may receive a grant to implement USAID food or child assistance programs in a specific location and would then carry out their programming within a U.S. government framework.

As such, PVOs may be seen as program implementation partners with USAID.

So, if one is interested in carrying out development programming in the field, one should examine the searchable PVO registry to determine which organizations are working in specific technical sectors or geographic areas that one is interested in.