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Archive for the ‘Pressroom’ Category

Statement: MFAN Applauds Introduction of the Bipartisan Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
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October 20, 2015 (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 welcomes the introduction of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015 by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). This bipartisan legislation would codify important reforms to ensure that U.S. agencies involved in foreign assistance are focused on rigorous and consistent monitoring and evaluation of programs and on making comprehensive, timely, and comparable aid data publicly available. By strengthening its commitment to monitoring and evaluation and transparency, the U.S. government can better allocate aid resources and be held accountable by a range of stakeholders.

Earlier versions of this legislation have been unanimously approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 113th Congress and by the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress. We commend Representatives Poe and Connolly and Senators Rubio and Cardin for their continued leadership to enact this important legislation.

MFAN strongly supports this legislation. It is vital to guaranteeing that U.S. foreign assistance becomes as transparent as possible and programs are thoroughly evaluated. Enacting this bill will help pave the way for the U.S. Government to further embed aid effectiveness principles in its development policy and practice in order to get the most out of every dollar we spend. The positive actions we have seen this Administration take to improve the accountability of U.S. foreign assistance, such as creating as a public venue for aid data, and the USAID and State Department evaluation policies, will be strengthened by this legislation.

We look forward to working with Congress to make this legislation even stronger by requiring that aid effectiveness approaches be rigorously applied to all foreign assistance, including security assistance, and reinforcing existing U.S. government commitments to transparency and evaluation, such as meeting its obligation on the International Aid Transparency Initiative.

MFAN Co-Founder Gayle Smith Nominated as Next USAID Administrator

Thursday, April 30th, 2015
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April 30, 2015 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network by Co-Chairs George Ingram, Carolyn Miles, and Connie Veillette:

MFAN applauds today’s announcement by the White House that Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Development and Democracy at the National Security Council, has been nominated as the next USAID Administrator. Smith, a Co-Founder of MFAN, has long been a champion of the aid effectiveness agenda while ensuring development is an equal pillar of U.S. foreign policy. In her role at the NSC, Smith has ensured development has a strong voice at the policymaking table, while helping to foster a more robust interagency dialogue and coordination around development efforts. We are pleased to see the White House nominate a strong and experienced leader to take the helm at the U.S. government’s lead development agency.

In her time at the National Security Council, Gayle Smith was instrumental in the creation of the first-ever Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, which focused on reestablishing the U.S. as the global leader on international development by rebuilding USAID’s capacity and modernizing our approach to development. The policy directive also paved the way for USAID’s sweeping reform agenda, USAID Forward. Through this agenda, USAID has made dramatic steps in recent years to strengthen its ability to deliver results for the American people and for people in developing countries around the world. As the new USAID Administrator, we hope to see Smith maintain, if not accelerate, the momentum around implementing and institutionalizing the key reforms of the USAID Forward agenda and to ensure the continued elevation and inclusion of development alongside defense and diplomacy.

A permanent USAID Administrator is essential to sustaining strong U.S. leadership on development programs. As we cautioned in our open letter to the President earlier this month, when the Administrator position was vacant in 2009 for nearly a full year, USAID and its programs suffered. With less than two years remaining in the Obama Administration, we urge the Senate to now swiftly confirm Gayle Smith so that we can continue to advance U.S. development goals and the aid effectiveness agenda.

Groups Welcome the Release of Administration Proposal for International Food Aid Reform

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013
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Below is a joint statement, which was released earlier today on the rumored changes to the U.S. approach to food aid in President Obama’s FY14 budget request. The statement welcomes reports that these changes may include useful reforms and is endorsed by 12 organizations, including MFAN.

food aid groups

Washington, DC, February 26, 2013 – The above groups welcome reports that the Administration may propose helpful reforms to the U.S. food assistance program in its FY2014 budget submission to Congress. We urge the Obama Administration to include a bold reform proposal that builds upon the United States’ historic leadership as the world’s most generous donor of food aid.

When 870 million people around the world go hungry every day, making every food aid dollar count is not only a responsible use of taxpayer money, it is a moral imperative. For that reason, it is critical that any reforms seek efficiencies rather than cuts, and do not alter the basic programmatic focus of the U.S. food aid program. These programs help to feed 55 million people in need around the world, supporting both emergency responses and addressing chronic hunger.

Our organizations strongly support effective foreign assistance to address humanitarian crises and development challenges. We know from our work on the ground that this aid saves lives.  That is why we have advocated for common sense reforms to our outdated food aid system that would allow the United States to continue providing life-saving assistance for millions of people around the world, even in this period of a constrained federal budget.

Making every dollar count for hungry people means adding flexibility to our overseas food assistance so that proven methods such as local and regional purchase (LRP) are part of the food aid toolbox. The recent release of an independent evaluation report of the USDA LRP Pilot Program, established under a provision of the 2008 farm bill, confirms that this approach is a triple win: providing considerable cost savings, faster humanitarian response, and support for the local farmers and agricultural markets that are the key to providing long-term global food security.

Making every dollar count for hungry people also means reducing the inefficient and potentially market distorting practice of selling U.S. commodities to fund non-food components of programs designed to support agriculture, nutrition and food security. It would be far more efficient to fund these activities directly, instead of through circuitous and inefficient route of monetizing food aid.

In a June 2011 report, the Government Accountability Office found that the use of monetization resulted in at least a 30 percent loss of resources to non-emergency food aid projects conducted from 2008-2010.

In the current budgetary climate, policymakers cannot afford to ignore any credible proposal to maximize the use of taxpayer dollars while maintaining and even increasing program reach and impact. Our organizations stand ready to work with the Administration and Congress to reform our international food aid system so that we can continue to respond to the scourge of global hunger today and build toward a hunger-free future tomorrow.


ONE’s Video Series Tells Truth about Foreign Aid

Friday, January 11th, 2013
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As advocates for more effective foreign assistance, MFAN understands the critical role our aid programs have had in alleviating poverty, eradicating disease, and promoting opportunity for millions struggling in the developing world. We also understand that these programs, which make up just 1 percent of our budget, are investments for a more prosperous, secure world.

It’s encouraging to see that, when given the facts, most Americans agree.

Over the past year, the ONE Campaign went around the country interviewing everyday Americans to ask what they thought about foreign aid. As Meagan Bond, ONE’s creative manager writes, “I met small business owners struggling to stay afloat, stay-at-home moms, students, bankers, roofers, truck drivers, teachers, youth ministers, and a man staying at a local shelter while he looked for a new job.

The results of these interviews are captured in their new “Man on the Street” video series. In each of the different locations, the responses were overwhelmingly similar: they thought the U.S. spent too much on foreign aid, until they were given the facts. See one of the videos below:

What were the facts? ONE shared that foreign aid made up less than 1 percent of the U.S. budget and had helped to accomplish some pretty amazing things, including getting 8 million people on life-saving AIDS medication and helping more than 1 billion people through smarter agricultural programs.

Once given these facts, people quickly moved from being skeptical to supportive and even glad to hear that their tax dollars were helping to bring about such positive change.

ONE is asking people to share these videos far and wide to help educate Americans on the facts of foreign aid—and MFAN encourages you to do the same. When more people understand the small percent of the budget we spend on foreign aid—and the outsized impact these programs have—it will be easier to make the case for continued support and continued American leadership on foreign aid.


MFAN Statement: MFAN Applauds Congressman Howard Berman’s Introduction of Global Partnerships Act to Modernize U.S. Foreign Assistance

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
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December 12, 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:

We commend Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA), a leading advocate for U.S. global development programs and foreign assistance reform, for introducing the Global Partnerships Act of 2012 (H.R. 6644).

The goal of H.R. 6644 is to replace the outdated Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 with a modern, responsive legislative foundation to guide U.S. development programs. As Congressman Berman has long said, it is critically important to have this kind of clear roadmap for development in a world that has changed so dramatically over the last 50 years. The legislation embraces the principles of effective, sustainable development that are now considered best practice in the international community and referenced in President Obama’s landmark Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD). MFAN is particularly pleased with the priority placed on the following reforms:

  • Promoting country ownership and partnering with local governments and citizens to set priorities;
  • Strengthening accountability and transparency through rigorous monitoring and evaluation;
  • Ensuring program decisions are evidence-based; and
  • Adopting a more integrated, coordinated, outcome-based approach to development that is flexible within and across sectors and agencies.

Congressman Berman and his staff deserve special credit for their consensus-building efforts around the bill, achieved through a series of consultations—many of which MFAN convened—with organizations and individuals in the development community. This bill reflects a shared vision from the community, including about the importance of reforms that are already being implemented, such as USAID’s five-year Country Development Cooperation Strategies, the MCC’s recently released independent impact evaluations, and the Foreign Assistance Dashboard.

The introduction of the Global Partnerships Act provides an opportunity for Members of Congress, including new Members, to work together in a bipartisan fashion to strengthen accountability and effectiveness in U.S. development programs. As the 113th Congress approaches, we encourage policymakers to consider this comprehensive, long-overdue proposal that would bring our foreign assistance into the 21st century and allow us to more effectively address new and pending global challenges.