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MFAN Statement: Leaked White House Development Document Has Strong Reform Elements

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Yesterday, ForeignPolicy.com’s Josh Rogin published a draft version of the National Security Council’s Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD-7), which is a landmark review of the strategy and structure behind U.S. development and foreign assistance efforts.  Rogin’s article notes that the ambitious recommendations in the document set off one or possibly multiple rounds of dynamic debate in government about who should have authority over U.S. development efforts.  President Obama is said to be awaiting the final report on PSD-7 from the NSC.  See our review of Rogin’s other reporting on development here.

MFAN released the following statement on the publication of the document:

MFAN Statement: Draft National Security Council Development Vision Includes Strong Reform Elements

May 3, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

The National Security Council (NSC) vision for development that was published in the media today would help to meet President Obama’s campaign pledge to ensure “development is established and endures as a key pillar of U.S. foreign policy,” while making our foreign assistance more effective and accountable.  Enacting the changes recommended in the draft document would allow the U.S. to resume its historic leadership position of providing hope and opportunity for the world’s poorest citizens by strengthening our ability to save lives, empower people to take control of their own destinies, and stabilize communities that are vulnerable to poverty, disease, and extremism.

The most important features of the Presidential Study Directive-7 highlighted in the media report include:

  • Creating and periodically reviewing a National Strategy for Global Development
  • Returning policy, budget, and field authority to USAID
  • Including the USAID Administrator at relevant NSC meetings
  • Convening a Development Policy Committee to coordinate Executive Branch development activities
  • Helping recipient countries assume ownership, responsibility, and accountability on development
  • Bolstering measurement and accountability of U.S. foreign assistance investments and demanding more of both from implementers and recipients
  • Forging a new partnership with Congress on development policy and practice

We believe the document could go further toward ensuring that the discipline of development is strong and distinct, specifically through elaborating in what ways and under what circumstances development and diplomacy need to be integrated and mutually reinforcing versus when development needs to stand alone, and hope the recommendations in the document will be firmly implemented across the U.S. government.  We also urge the Administration to engage with Congressional leaders now to translate this vision into an anticipated update of the antiquated Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.  President Obama’s leadership will be needed on both fronts in order to “reestablish the United States as the global leader on international development.”

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