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Archive for November, 2010

MFAN Co-Chairs: It’s Time to Finish the Job on Foreign Aid Reform

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
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In a new op-ed for Devex, MFAN’s Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram make the case to keep up the momentum for foreign aid reform, underscoring that reform is a bipartisan issue with support from both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue. The full op-ed is posted below. To comment on the piece, please email Rolf Rosenkranz at or Jenni Rothenberg at Devex members can also sign in to post a comment by clicking here.

George Ingram1David Beckmann1

It’s Time to Finish the Job on Foreign Aid Reform

By the Rev. David Beckmann and George Ingram

With the leak of a summary of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review last week – and President Obama’s announcement of America’s first-ever government-wide global development policy in September – the Obama administration has moved another step closer to an overhaul of the U.S. approach to global development, something no administration has been able to accomplish in the last 50 years.

The fact that we have come this far shows there is a broad, bipartisan consensus in Washington on the need to make U.S. foreign aid more effective, particularly because it is so critical to ongoing national security efforts, but also because we need our development dollars to go further in a time of tight budgets. The administration and Congress now must work together to finish the job, and turn these bold proposals into lasting policies and structures.


Bread for the World Institute Launches 2011 Hunger Report

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
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20101122_HungerReportLaunch_078FbOn November 22, 2010, Bread for the World Institute held an event for the release of its 2011 Hunger Report, which focuses on the global response to the 2007-2008 food price crisis that led to a dramatic rise in hunger and poverty, and U.S. leadership in galvanizing the international community.  Roger Thurow, Senior Fellow at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, moderated the panel which included Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator; David Beckmann, President for Bread for the World and MFAN co-chair; Inger Anderson, Vice President of Sustainable Development at the World Bank; and Carolyn Miles, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Save the Children USA.

The 2011 Hunger Report frames 2011 as a “time of opportunity to achieve lasting progress against global hunger and malnutrition.”  The report applauds the new U.S. government initiative, Feed the Future, which takes a country-led approach to addressing hunger and poverty through empowering small farmers.  It also aims to address the impact of child malnutrition on long-term economic development.

The report underscores that Feed the Future is affected by some of the same structural weaknesses that limit the effectiveness of other U.S. development assistance programs.  One such weakness is the loss of technical expertise at USAID.  The report suggests that the structural weaknesses facing USAID can only be overcome by rewriting the Foreign Assistance Act to reflect the realities and challenges of the 21st century, a core MFAN objective.

Dr. Shah stated, “The 2011 Hunger Report aptly reminds us that in order to tackle the root causes of hunger and malnutrition, we need to invest in smallholder farmers and focus on integrating nutrition and agriculture development through a country-led approach.  Feed the Future…does just that.  We are proudly leading a global movement to reverse decades-long neglect of agriculture-led development.”  Shah highlighted USAID Forward and its various components that aim to modernize the agency and make it more effective.  See Shah’s full remarks at the 2011 Hunger Report launch here.

Major Takeaways Include:

  • Fighting hunger and malnutrition effectively requires a comprehensive approach that focuses on small farmers, haitiempowers women, and deals quickly with hunger emergencies;
  • When providing development assistance, the U.S. government should allow transparency and accountability of funding, help build national government capacities to sustain progress, and build civil society’s capacity to hold national governments accountable;
  • Congress should rewrite the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act to improve the effectiveness and flexibility of U.S. development assistance to respond to the needs of partner countries;
  • The U.S. should take the lead in strengthening international institutions to address global problems.

Nides Nomination Hearing

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
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On Wednesday November 17th, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) held a nomination hearing for Jack Lew’s replacement as Deputy Secretary of State – Thomas Nides. In his opening remarks, SFRC Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) underscored the work that will continue as the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) is rolled out. Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN) pointed out the importance of the position and reminded Nides that the committee has drafted and passed legislation to advance the objective of a balanced foreign policy with the help of Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton.

During his testimony Nides – who is currently serving as the Chief Operating Officer at Morgan Stanley – used his experience in the private sector to demonstrate he is up for the challenge. After noting that he shares the Secretary’s vision for elevating diplomacy and development, he listed three priorities he will undertake once in office:

  • Build a more operational State Department.
  • Unify civilian forces in USAID. For example, Nides said he will galvanize cross-cutting efforts around a common global health strategy.
  • Implement an agenda of reform and transparency. Nides pointed to the QDDR as an example of how this effort is already underway.


Foreign Policy & Development: Structure, Process, Policy and the Drip-by-Drip Erosion of USAID

Friday, November 19th, 2010
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On November 18, 2010, The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) held a discussion of Jerry Hyman’s article “Foreign Policy and Development: Structure, Process, Policy and the Drip-by-Drip Erosion of USAID.” Panelists included Jerry Hyman, President of the Hills Program on Governance at CSIS; MFAN Principal Jim Kolbe, Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund and former Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State/Foreign Operations; and Larry Garber, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa.  The discussion, which was moderated by Dan Runde, Director of the Project on Prosperity and Development at CSIS, focused on the inherent tensions between foreign policy and development policy. Runde said when the question is asked, “Who is in charge of U.S. development policy?” the answer is often times: “It depends.”

Hyman said development has grown in importance over the last few administrations, noting that the main reason is because it is being seen as a critical component of national security. Despite development’s elevated role and stature, there has been “utter deterioration” at the same time: organizationally, substantively, and procedurally. Hyman referred to the “idiom of lines” between the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development and said there has never been a time when development policy was de-linked from diplomacy.

Additionally, he discussed the decision to place key development initiatives, such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation and PEPFAR, outside of USAID, as problematic. Hyman suggested that the conceptual and organizational clutter leads to confusion in implementation, chain of command, and coordination. He said that the government must “avoid the impulse to create a new box every time there is a new idea.” The more you divide the structure, the more inherent the need for coordination. Instead, we need to rebuild USAID, and the agency needs to reclaim as much lost ground as possible.

Kolbe began his remarks by stating that, “The deterioration of USAID is not a subjective statement…it’s a fact.” He contributed USAID’s diminished capacity to the militarization of aid and the creation of two new government agencies to circumvent dealing with USAID. Kolbe highlighted the President’s presidential policy directive on development (PPD) and the draft Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), noting that they are not in conflict with each other, but that they do have differences in emphasis. Kolbe underscored the importance of the Obama Administration working with Congress, because if they want reforms from the PPD and QDDR to have any meaningful impact, they have to have legislative buy-in.

Garber highlighted the reforms underway at USAID as a part of USAID Forward. He said that their reform efforts are taking place within the broader context of the 2010 National Security Strategy, the President’s global development policy, and the QDDR, which will be formally released in mid-December. Garber stated that USAID Administrator Shah and the staff at USAID believe that organizational change is possible, but it will take time before a “true development renaissance” is achieved.

Contours of QDDR Crystallizing

Friday, November 19th, 2010
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state-department-logo-and-clinton-199a-042909Sixteen months after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would conduct the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), a draft summary has been presented to Congress as reported by The Washington Post, and gives us a first glimpse of changes we can expect to see at both agencies.

It boldly leads off by stating: “To advance American interests and values and to lead other nations in solving shared problems in the 21st century, we must rely on our diplomats and development experts as the first face of American power.  We must lead through civilian power.”

Modeled after the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, the QDDR is designed to “improve the efficiency and effectiveness of State and USAID in delivering results for the American taxpayer, by modernizing their capabilities and aligning their efforts as core pillars of America’s civilian power.”  According to the draft, the exercise will serve as “an ongoing commitment to review, right-size and institutionalize reform.”

With respect to elevating and strengthening USAID, the draft puts the agency in charge of the Obama Administration’s global hunger and food security initiative called “Feed the Future” – which MFAN has been calling for – and plans to eventually give USAID oversight responsibility for the administration’s Global Health Initiative.  In addition, USAID’s capacity would continue to be ramped up with additional mid-career hires following a 38% decline in its workforce between 1990 and 2007, according to the report.

On coordination, the draft calls for the policy planning offices at State and USAID to develop a Joint Strategic Plan, which would then feed into a single, multi-year Integrated Country Strategy from the Chief of Mission that combines all country-level planning –though it is made clear that the development component of the strategy would be formulated by USAID.  The Chiefs of Mission would be held accountable “as CEOs of multi-agency missions” and be involved in “high-level interagency decision-making in Washington.”

On the State side, there would be internal restructuring to include: an Office of the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and Environmental Affairs, which would include a new Bureau of International Energy Affairs; a Special Coordinator for Sanctions and Illicit Finance; and an Office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, which would include a new Bureau for Crisis and Conflict Operations that would absorb the existing Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS).

The document also appears to move closer toward a unified national security budget – a notion Clinton has been promoting recently – by applying the joint planning and budgeting process from Iraq and Afghanistan to other complex situations.

Among other notable principles is a continued emphasis on “country ownership” – including greater use of local country systems to strengthen local government, civil society and private sector capacity – and on women and girls in both development programs and conflict prevention and recovery.

Implementation of the QDDR will be jointly overseen by the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the USAID Administrator.

To read The Cable’s take on the QDDR summary, click here.

For the Washington Post article, click here.