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MFAN Statement: Agencies Report Progress on Obama Development Policy

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April 5, 2012 (WASHINGTON) This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram and Jim Kolbe:

Six months ago, MFAN challenged the U.S. government agencies involved in development to provide public information about how they were implementing President Obama’s Global Development Policy (PPD), which in September 2010 called for accelerating foreign assistance reform. The answers we received – which have been posted on MFAN’s new “Policy to Action” webpage – suggest that key agencies have made concrete changes in line with the PPD’s focus on economic growth, coordination, country ownership and accountability. (Click here to read MFAN’s full policy analysis of the PPD)

We applaud the Obama Administration for its transparency in these reports, as well as its recent commitment to join the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and its acknowledgement of Congress’ clear interest in open government, as outlined in the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2011 introduced by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Howard Berman (D-CA).

The highlights of the agency reports:

  • USAID is now making long-term program decisions based on Country Development Cooperation Strategies (CDCS), five-year frameworks that prioritize local needs and local accountability;
  • MCC has new Threshold Program policies that help countries make smart reforms to bolster their eligibility for grants from the agency. This new policy was used to support Tunisia with its democratic and economic transition following the Arab Spring;
  • More than 3,000 Peace Corps volunteers helped to implement the Stomping out Malaria campaign in Africa, done in collaboration with the President’s Malaria Initiative, by assisting communities and distributing bed nets; and
  • Through the recently launched African Competitiveness and Trade Enhancement initiative, USTR is helping to provide technical assistance to sub-Saharan African countries to enhance regional and global trade, while growing exports to the U.S. under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

We now have initial evidence that reform is beginning to make our development assistance more strategic and effective. We urge Members of Congress to take note of this progress, particularly with budget negotiations underway. We believe that reforming development policy and foreign assistance is critical in this age of tight budgets, because it will allow us to get more out of every dollar in our efforts to maintain U.S. leadership on development, capitalize on the unprecedented gains made against poverty and disease over the last decade, and help developing countries achieve self-sufficiency.