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Archive for the ‘MFAN News’ Category

Year in Review: Looking Back at The Way Forward

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014
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As 2014 comes to a close, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on what has happened and what we’ve accomplished throughout the year to make U.S. foreign assistance more effective.

We kicked off the year under the new leadership of Carolyn Miles, and Connie Veillette, along with our longtime co-chair George Ingram, and set out to refocus our agenda. In April, with broad support from the community, we released a refreshed policy agenda, The Way Forward: A Reform Agenda for 2014 and Beyond, centered on the two pillar issues of accountability through transparency, evaluation and learning; and country ownership of the priorities, resources, and implementation of development.

We saw notable progress for aid reform this past calendar year. In February, the 2014 Farm Bill was reauthorized with positive reforms that ensure greater flexibility and effectiveness of our international food aid programs. PEPFAR announced a three-year agreement with the MCC to promote greater host-country responsibility and ownership in the U.S. global AIDS program in April. The President’s Global Development Council, a group of experts from a variety of sectors that advises the President and other senior officials on global development policy and practice, released its first report. Beyond Business as Usual calls for a focus on the private sector, innovation, transparency and evidence, climate smart food security, and global leadership, coinciding with many of the points from MFAN’s policy paper.

The Government Accountability Office published a report assessing USAID’s Local Solutions initiative, and specifically its principal indicator of the percentage of funds obligated to local organizations in partner countries. The report finds that USAID has increased funding to local organizations, but needs to be doing more to track and measure progress, an issue MFAN’s Country Ownership Working Group is examining as well. The second part of GAO’s report, requested by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is expected by the spring of 2015. The Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, established at the Fourth High Level Forum in Busan in 2011, met in April in Mexico City to evaluate donors’ progress on their commitments to the Global Partnership Principles, including the commitment that donors publish all aid data to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard by 2015. While the U.S. continues to make progress on this front, the record is mixed across agencies and more needs to be done to meet the deadline a mere twelve months away.

This summer, MFAN convened the community for a public event to reflect on why accountability and country ownership are central to our agenda and how they are being put into practice. The Foreign Assistance Dashboard grew, adding data from the Department of Agriculture and the State Department. Legislation introduced in the House last year by Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA) and Karen Bass (D-CA), the Food Aid Reform Act, and subsequently this past June by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE), the Food for Peace Reform Act, would modernize U.S. food aid programs and remove outdated red tape. We will continue to push for similar legislation to be introduced and passed in the new Congress. The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, held in Washington DC in August, brought U.S. and African government and civil society leaders together to discuss important issues such as energy and electricity, climate change, and strengthening country ownership. MFAN convened two side events with African civil society leaders to discuss our pillar issues of accountability and country ownership. In working toward its commitment to IATI, the Foreign Assistance Dashboard adopted the IATI standard with a tailored U.S. extension in August, consistent with other donors’ practices.

Into the fall, USAID held its second Frontiers in Development conference focused on ending extreme poverty, tackling questions related to inequality, fragility and instability, climate change, and global health. MFAN’s Accountability Working Group released a one-pager, The Role of Transparency, making the case for why high quality, timely information is key to ensuring our aid has maximum positive impact. In October, Publish What You Fund released its 2014 Aid Transparency Index. This year, the MCC celebrated its 10th Anniversary by maintaining its place among the top three global donors, while PEPFAR made substantial progress by moving up 20 spots in its ranking from 2013. Also, following the fall midterm elections took place, 2015 will usher in a Republican-controlled House and Senate. This positions longstanding aid-effectiveness champions Senator Corker and Congressman Royce to make even more headway as chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee, respectively.

As we look toward the kickoff of a new session of Congress and the last two years of the Obama Administration, we will continue to work with the Hill and the Administration to push forward on reform. In early 2015, we will say goodbye to USAID Administrator Raj Shah, who recently announced his mid-February departure. Administrator Shah has been an important ally for reform and has worked hard to strengthen the agency in both its intellectual and operational capacity and effectiveness. We look forward to spending time on the Hill working with and educating new members on the critical relationship between accountability and country ownership. We hope to see new legislation introduced on transparency and evaluation and to continue to push for other important reform-minded bills such as the Food for Peace Reform Act.

2015 will have its share of big moments for development, and we hope in turn for aid reform. In particular, we will be watching closely for the release of a new Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), the International Conference on Financing for Development, the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals and the introduction of the Post-2015 agenda, and the deadline for the U.S. to meet its commitment to IATI.

We wish everyone a restful and happy New Year and look forward to hitting the ground running in 2015!

MFAN Welcomes David Ray, VP for Policy & Advocacy for CARE USA, as the Newest Executive Committee Member

Friday, November 21st, 2014
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November 21, 2014 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs George Ingram, Carolyn Miles, and Connie Veillette

MFAN is pleased to welcome David Ray, Vice President for Policy & Advocacy for CARE USA and Managing Director of CARE Action Now, as the newest member of the Executive Committee. Ray brings with him more than 25 years of advocacy, constituency building and campaigning experience, including 19 at CARE alone, which will be a huge asset to the committee.

CARE has expressed strong support for MFAN’s reform agenda and a commitment to adding their experience and expertise to our network. CARE’s work spans the globe, and the organization worked in 90 countries in 2014. We look forward to CARE’s contributions as we continue to push for greater accountability and country ownership to make U.S. foreign assistance more effective in helping developing countries access a path to prosperity.

Community Shows Broad Support for “The Way Forward”

Friday, April 25th, 2014
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Last week MFAN launched a new policy paper, The Way Forward: A Reform Agenda for 2014 and Beyond, and with it, a newly streamlined agenda focused on two key pillars of reform: accountability through transparency, evaluation and learning; and country ownership of the priorities and resources for, and implementation of, development.

Take a look at what the community is saying about the new paper…

Plan International USA
: The fact is there is mounting evidence that aid, designed and delivered around these pillars, is more likely to have higher impact and deliver sustainable benefits well beyond the original time frame of the donor-funded project.

Oxfam America: The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network’s new agenda focuses the tools that partner country stakeholders need to make smart decisions about their own development.

U.S. Global Leadership Coalition: Much has changed in the world since 2009, and these two issues offer a smart focus on where progress could be made. They reinforce the recognition that private sources of capital (investments, remittances, private philanthropy) into the developing world have grown over the last forty years to dwarf official assistance, which now must leverage rather than substitute for private capital.

ONE: These reforms will ensure that US development will be more effective and more efficient, ensuring that the money we spend to fight global poverty is making developing countries’ systems more sustainable, and governments, both here and abroad, more accountable.

Save the Children: U.S. foreign aid to developing countries is vital in the effort to save lives, fight famine, put kids in schools, and respond to disasters. But, our help will be even more impactful and lasting if designed and implemented in true partnership with developing country governments and citizens, in ways that strengthen their own efforts, and that they can build on.

The Hewlett Foundation: If the world’s biggest bilateral donor puts partner country priorities at the top of the agenda, invites their citizens to the table, and opens its books about how much it spends and what it does (or doesn’t) achieve, this sets a standard by which other actors, including partner countries themselves and private investors, are held to account.

The Lugar Center: These two priorities will form the core of MFAN’s work over the next two years. During this period – as our country enters the next presidential election cycle — it is critical that we solidify progress that has been made on foreign assistance reform and build a consensus for a deeper reform agenda.

Bread for the World Institute: MFAN emphasizes that development and development co-operation need to promote inclusive, accountable partnerships that support country-led processes that will improve the lives of hungry and poor people.

Devex: The next two years are an important window of opportunity for U.S. aid reform. The midterm elections in 2014 are certain to shake up the membership of Congress. In 2015, the Millennium Development Goals will expire and a new global development agenda will take its place. And 2016 will bring with it the end of the Obama administration.

Inter Press Service: U.S. foreign aid is becoming increasingly outdated, analysts here are suggesting.
Rather, reforms to U.S. assistance need to focus on issues of accountability and country ownership, according to a policy paper released this week by Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN), a prominent coalition of international development advocates and foreign policy experts.

Politix: While both the Obama administration and the Bush administration before it have taken important steps to push the ball forward, there are still a number of reforms that would make a big difference in getting the best value for our money and helping move more people out of poverty, more reliably. These are outlined in MFAN’s new policy paper, The Way Forward: A Reform Agenda for 2014 and Beyond, which reflects on past achievements and describes the path ahead.

Charting A Way Forward on U.S. Development Policy

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
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See below for a post by MFAN Co-Chairs George Ingram, Carolyn Miles, and Connie Veillette.

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The U.S. has an important leadership role to play when it comes to supporting development and reducing poverty around the world. Foreign assistance serves our national interests by enhancing national security, expanding global economic opportunities, and promoting American values. In 2008, MFAN was established because of the growing recognition that U.S. foreign assistance and development policy needed to be strengthened and modernized in order to confront today’s challenges and bring about a more peaceful and prosperous world.

Since MFAN’s founding we have seen the Administration and Congress take actions to improve development policy and practice and make U.S. assistance dollars work smarter. Today, with the launch of our new policy paper, The Way Forward: A Reform Agenda for 2014 and Beyond, we both reflect on past achievements and humbly recognize there is much more work to be done.

MFAN’s new agenda outlines two powerful and mutually reinforcing pillars of reform – accountability through transparency, evaluation and learning; and country ownership of the priorities and resources for, and implementation of, development. These pillars are vital to building capacity in developing countries to enable leaders and citizens to take responsibility for their own development.

We applaud the many actions that have already been taken or put in motion to advance accountability and country ownership. For the Obama Administration, these include the commitment to fully implement the International Aid Transparency Initiative, USAID’s Partnership for Growth and Local Solutions initiatives, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s commitment to transparency reflected by its top ranking on the 2013 Aid Transparency Index. In addition it is particularly encouraging to see that transparency is embedded in the recommendations of the Global Development Council that were released this week. Congress has also taken up the reform cause with the creation of the Congressional Caucus on Effective Foreign Assistance, the introduction and reintroduction of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, and recent efforts to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of international food aid.

These next two years are an important window of opportunity for U.S. aid reform. The midterm elections in 2014 are certain to shake up the membership of Congress. In 2015, the Millennium Development Goals will expire and a new global development agenda will take its place. And 2016 will bring a new administration and further changes in Congress.  We urge the Administration and Congress to work together to institutionalize the important reforms that have already been introduced and continue to push forward on strengthening country ownership and accountability. The profound changes in international aid globally make the focus on these changes even more important to ensuring US aid effectiveness.

We will be tracking progress made on the key reform actions we outline in the paper and sharing our thoughts with the community, the Administration, and Congress. We invite – and look forward to – the dialogue that these recommendations will generate.

NGO Community Shows Broad Support for Transparency & Accountability Bill

Friday, July 12th, 2013
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This week, a bicameral, bipartisan piece of legislation was introduced to strengthen transparency and evaluation of U.S. foreign assistance. The bill, the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013 (H.R. 2638; S. 1271), was introduced by Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). An earlier version of the legislation was introduced last year and passed the House with a unanimous vote of 390-0. The legislation establishes uniform interagency guidelines – with measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans and also requires the President to maintain and expand the Foreign Assistance Dashboard.

MFAN is pleased to see that the legislation has been reintroduced with bipartisan backing in both the House and Senate as well as strong support from the NGO community. Brookings and Oxfam put out blog posts applauding the bill’s introduction, and in addition to MFAN’s statement, below you will find additional statements of support from MFAN partners.

  • “We thank Reps. Poe and Connolly and Sens. Rubio and Cardin for introducing this important bipartisan legislation that will enact common-sense reforms to improve U.S. foreign assistance programs. We appreciate their hard work and dedication to reforming and improving foreign assistance through greater transparency and accountability measures. Ultimately, these reforms will empower us to better serve the world’s poor, as well as American taxpayers.” – Samuel A. Worthington, President & CEO, InterAction
  •  “It took great bipartisan effort to move this bill forward and we hope it sets a constructive precedent for further reform. When people in developing countries know what the US is doing in their communities, they can take action themselves to amplify the results. And when the US government has better information and tools for measuring the impact of our programs, we can help make sure they are delivering better results for America and our partners.” – Gregory Adams, Director of Aid Effectiveness, Oxfam America
  •  “This bill is an important step toward increasing the transparency, accountability and impact of foreign aid. With upwards from 22 agencies currently implementing U.S. foreign assistance, the bill aims to streamline and clarify how programs across federal agencies deliver aid.” – Andrea Koppel, Vice President of Global Engagement and Policy, Mercy Corps
  •  “This legislation demonstrates a real desire in Congress to make our foreign assistance programs, which are saving millions of lives around the world, even better by making them more effective, efficient and transparent. We look forward to working with Members of both chambers to enact this legislation during the 113th Congress.” – Tom Hart, U.S. Executive Director, ONE
  •  “The USGLC commends Congressmen Poe and Connolly and Senators Rubio and Cardin for their leadership on this bipartisan legislation to further enhance the accountability and effectiveness of foreign assistance programs.  In addition to ensuring ample funding and resources for development and diplomacy, it’s vital that we ensure the highest standards for transparency and results.” – Liz Schrayer, Executive Director, USGLC