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MFAN Statement: President Obama Can Use Second Term to Solidify Gains, Drive Additional Progress on Foreign Assistance Reform

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November 13, 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:

MFAN wishes to congratulate President Barack Obama, as well as returning and new Members of Congress, for their victories in the 2012 elections. With regard to U.S. development and foreign assistance efforts, this is an important moment to look back at the accomplishments of the last four years and ahead to the clear opportunities of the coming term.

During President Obama’s first term in office, we saw significant progress made in elevating, reforming, and reshaping U.S. development programs. The President built on efforts by the Bush Administration to create a new model for U.S. foreign assistance, taking them a step further by releasing the first-ever Presidential Policy Directive on Development (PPD). The PPD established a roadmap for transforming our development programs with a greater focus on country-led approaches, monitoring and evaluation, transparency and accountability, and more efficient partnerships and coordination between the public and private sectors. To execute this vision effectively, the President supported a landmark internal reform process to revitalize the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and launched innovative new programs like Feed the Future and the Partnership for Growth. We applaud the President, his staff, and other key players from the Administration and Congress for having the courage to push these reforms.

The next four years offer the opportunity to solidify gains and drive additional progress. MFAN will focus specifically on four key areas, which will be discussed in more detail in a forthcoming set of transition recommendations:

  • Institutionalizing reform by working with Congress to pass key legislation, like the Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act, which enjoys support from Democrats and Republicans in both chambers.
  • Strengthening U.S. leadership in global development by producing an overarching global development strategy.
  • Improving transparency and accountability by ensuring that relevant agencies follow OMB guidelines and submit information to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), and that such information is cross-posted to the ForeignAssistance.gov dashboard.
  • Transitioning from aid to development cooperation by rethinking our relationship with middle-income and other countries where non-aid tools, such as trade and investment, can have a stronger impact.

These are big and ambitious undertakings but we believe they are realistic and achievable. We are particularly optimistic of success because of what we heard on the 2012 campaign trail. Both President Obama and Governor Romney spoke publicly about the importance of U.S. efforts to alleviate poverty, drive economic growth, and eradicate disease in developing countries. We hope that policymakers in both parties will agree that our ability to maintain our leadership and leverage on a changing world stage, and turn the unprecedented development gains of the past decade into lasting change, will rest heavily on how well we use non-military tools of foreign policy like development and diplomacy.

We look forward to working with our MFAN partners, the Obama Administration, and the next generation of development leadership in Congress to continue reforming U.S. foreign assistance to make it more effective and accountable.