Yahapalana, USAID & DAI – Democratic Governance & Accountability Scorecard!


Regime Change in 2015 was quick to roll out plenty of good governance initiatives. One such was the $13.7m Strengthening Democratic Governance & Accountability Project (SDGAP) to reform Sri Lanka’s public sector. USAID tasked oft called CIA-front Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) to roll out the program. DAI was to work closely with the Parliament, Independent Commissions & Related Ministries. The SDGAP though a bilateral agreement was subject to laws & regulations of the US & overlooked by USAID’s Office of Inspector General, questioning how Sri Lanka’s Parliament could even think of approving this. The SDGAP program was for only 3 years and launched in November 2016 with $13m released in September 2016. This meant that by November 2019 the fund allocation was over & the program should have concluded. Not only should it have concluded, who is actually tasked to benchmark what was under under the SDGAP at every line ministry, what were the changes recommended and implemented or rejected and overall what what the program outcome & success of the initiative. Let’s not forget that 2 bond scams took place and scores of corruptions too throughout this roll out!


According to US embassy Colombo, the US has provided $2billion since 1956 (50years) towards agriculture, small business development, environment, health, education, infrastructure, transportation, humanitarian assistance, civil society, electoral reform & good governance. The SDGAP was the first of its kind in Sri Lanka.


Yahapalana figureheads associated with the project included Karu Jayasuriya, Ajith Perera, Karunaratne Paranavithane, Sudarshani Fernandupulle, Dhammika Dassanayake (Sec Gen of Parliament) and SL’s envoy in US Prasad Kariyawasam, later to be embroiled in a series of controversies& controversial roles functions as a DAI employee.



USAID allocated a $13.7m funding to DAI – DAI in turn called for various proposals from organizations which raises further questions as to why USAID-DAI are calling for FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS to strengthen democracy? Each funding is USD $100,000.

What is the actual undisclosed objective?



  • Have public accountability systems been strengthened?
  • Has planning, communication, policy reform & implementation improved?
  • What is the success the Sri Lankan Parliament Project can boast off?
  • Having engaged with the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration what are the best practices introduced to public servants?
  • How has corruption lessened – the yahapalana PM and Finance Minister and CB Governor were all embroiled in financial controversy!
  • What is the outcome of Sri Lanka’s participation in the Open Government Partnership?
  • What is gender mainstreaming & gender responsive budgeting?



USAID tasked Development Alternatives Inc to roll out Strengthening Democratic Governance & Accountability Project in Sri Lanka.


It was only in February 2018, that DAI invited proposals to supply, install, commission & maintain a document archival system for Sri Lanka’s Parliament.https://www.dai.com/uploads/sdgap-rfp2.pdf


In May 2018, the 1stmeeting was held to create a national action plan to combat bribery & corruption by the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruptions at the Water’s Edge Hotel, Colombo


Unfortunately, its first and only head continues to be embroiled in controversy with a series of tapes coming out on her abusing her position as head of the Bribery Commission resulting her being removed from her post. Looks like good governance via SDGAP had gone hay wire.


In May 2018 ME&A an international development firm advertised for a Local Public Accountability/Strategic Planning Specialist. Who was selected for this role? ME&A was tasked by DAI to carry out a mid-term performance evaluation of USAID/Sri Lanka SDGAP activity. WHAT WAS THE OUTCOME?



In June 2018 DAI advertised for a Chief of Party, Sri Lanka – who got selected for this role & what has been done since?



In February 2019 DAI requested proposals to restructure the Parliament Media Unit. How has it been restructured and what are the new entities plugged by USAID-DAI under SDGAP program? Who is monitoring this?



Even by June 2019 — USAID-DAI were still putting teams together https://www.bconnected.lk/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/DAI-Recommendation-Letter.pdf


Though the USAID funded SDGAP project was to have ended in November 2019, in February 2020 a partnership between academia and Parliament was signed under the same program.

https://www.sjp.ac.lk/sites/evalc/2020/03/11/partnership-between-academia-and-parliament-in-use-of-evidence-in-informed-decision-making/Obviously no one is keeping track of the USAID-DAI-SDGAP programs all involved with the heart of governance in Sri Lanka!

The Centre for Evaluation of Sri Jayawardenapura University set up an evidence based policy & research unit. The Parliament of Sri Lanka & the UGC signed a MOU wherein universities would make research findings available from state universities in Sri Lanka for evidence based decision making by Parliamentarians.

What happens is the US allocates funds to one of its agencies, one of its agencies contracts one of its own entities who selects entities associated with pro-US goals and the money ends up circulating amongst their own!

Sri Lanka’s Defense Ministry has taken over NGOs, media & tech institutions by gazette notification. Thus the National Secretariat for Non-governmental Organization must immediately take the USAID-DAI-SDGAP project and do a thorough investigation on what they have done since launching the program initiatives across Sri Lanka since 2016 and also confirm that the 3 year program has wound up as originally planned.





Shenali D Waduge



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