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The most sexy boring thing you haven’t heard of: USAID’s Implementation & Procurement Reform

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A Guest Post by Porter McConnell, Aid Effectiveness Team, Oxfam America

What if I told you a little-known bureaucratic process called “Implementation and Procurement Reform”, IPR for short, was one of the sexiest victories for poor people in years?  Bear with me as I stick this through the wonk-speak translator:

Implementation /imp-le-men-ta-shun/ n., everything the US Agency for International Development (USAID) does to fight poverty.

Procurement /pro-kür-ment/ n., how USAID gets what it needs to fight poverty.

Reform /re-form/ n., changes to how aid is delivered so poor people get the help they need most.

Put it all together, and you’ve got big changes for how and where USAID does what it does to fight poverty and get people the help they need most. Pretty exciting, right?

You’re probably thinking, yeah yeah, you already told us big changes were coming two weeks ago when President Obama announced the new global development policy. How is IPR news?

It’s taking the concept of country ownership and making it real. In 2005, the US promised along with other countries to deliver the kind of assistance citizens and their governments need, not just what we want to give them. Put simply, we don’t do development, people develop themselves. So the job of donors like the US is to transfer information, capacity, and control to the true agents of change, poor people themselves. Implementation & Procurement Reform is a plan for how the US will help citizens and their governments build their own capacity, instead of setting up our own systems like we used to do.

So, we know it’s a good thing, but how do we know it will happen? This is where it gets really exciting: USAID has set itself concrete short and medium-term targets to get it done. The targets they set for themselves are laser-focused on results, and to fighting global poverty not just in the short-term, but for good.

So to recap, we don’t do development, people develop themselves, and this little-known bureaucratic process called IPR is going to change the way the US helps people around the world develop themselves. And our job as US citizens who care about global poverty is to make sure the US government meets and exceeds their ambitious targets, no matter what special interests get in the way. Any questions?

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“‘Our pockets are empty, but our minds are not’, said our first president. Ownership is about creating the time and space for developing countries to determine what support they need to achieve development. Ownership has to prepare us to stand on our own two feet. We learn by doing.” Tanzanian ambassador to the United States Ombeni Sefue (pictured with Tanzanian students, second from left)

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