Last night, President Obama spoke at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship – the first summit to build off his promise of a “new beginning” from last year’s speech in Cairo. The Summit, co-hosted by the Departments of State and Commerce, is a step toward building closer ties between the U.S. and Muslim communities worldwide. In his remarks, President Obama noted recent efforts taken to strengthen partnership that include expanding educational exchanges, collaborating on global health issues with the Organization of Islamic Conference, and fostering innovation in science and technology. He also noted steps the U.S. has taken to improve relations:
Archive for the ‘State Department’ Category
Last week, Deputy Secretary Jack Lew and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah briefed the press at the State Department on their recent trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Lew and Shah remarked on the coordination among government ministries and local citizens, as well as the U.S. civilian-military programs. While both acknowledged the security challenges of development work in the region, they noted specific areas where development has begun to transform local communities. Watch the press brief below and follow this link for full text: http://www.state.gov/video/?videoid=78481442001
Yesterday, MFAN featured a blog post by Karin Christiansen on aid transparency as follow-up to the QDDR blog series last month. Below is another QDDR extra from MFAN member Jonathan White, senior program officer at the German Marshall Fund. Do you think there are any questions – other than those noted by White – that the QDDR and PSD must answer to ensure these reviews lead to the creation of a national development strategy?
By Jonathan White
The Presidential Study Directive on Global Development (PSD) and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) represent an unprecedented confluence of factors which could fundamentally alter U.S. engagement with the world. But will the PSD and the QDDR coalesce around a unified outcomes-oriented strategy that enables the discipline of development in the U.S. political system?
USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah mentioned “development as a discipline” in his Congressional testimony. What underlies this notion is that development represents a distinctive body of knowledge. Currently there is no center of gravity in the U.S. government for cultivating, testing, refining, and mastering the discipline of development which can harvest and importantly implement global best practices.
Interim recommendations from the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) are rumoured to be released this week. To follow-up on last month’s QDDR blog series, and continue to ask the hard questions, MFAN presents the following guest post from Karin Christiansen, director of Publish What You Fund – an MFAN partner organization. Let us know whether you think aid transparency is critical to foreign assistance reform, or what you think might rank higher in the comments section below.
Why is aid transparency so critical to foreign aid reform in the 21st century?
By Karin Christiansen
Transparency is not just the latest buzzword in Washington but a concept that the QDDR has true potential to bring to life. From country ownership to food security and from Afghanistan to Haiti, aid transparency is no longer seen as a niche policy concern, but rather a necessary – though not sufficient – component of improving the impact of aid and delivering development overall.
Aid transparency is not just about more information, but also about better structured information. If you do a search on the web, there is a fair amount of data about donors and aid agencies in Haiti, but it is not presented in a way in which you can use it to talk to each other. The QDDR is a major opportunity for the U.S. Government to address the availability of comprehensive, timely, and comparable aid information and increase aid transparency for both U.S. citizens and the people benefiting from U.S. foreign assistance.
In a new report – “Capacity for Change: Reforming U.S. Assistance Efforts in Poor and Fragile Countries” – by co-authors Noam Unger (Fellow, Global Economy and Development, Brookings Institution and MFAN Principal), Margaret Taylor (Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project), and Frederick Barton (former co-director of the CSIS Post-Conflict Reconstruction Project), policymakers are presented with key recommendations to inform a coherent and effective national approach to both stabilization and broader development.
As the Obama administration moves through two strategic reviews – the Presidential Study Directive on U.S. Global Development Policy and the State Department’s first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review – the report concludes that “there is a stunningly broad consensus that improvement is needed across the board” on how the U.S. government provides foreign aid. The report also predicts that “new presidential decisions and policies are expected” from the administration this spring on key questions around foreign assistance and the elevation of development as a strong pillar of U.S. foreign policy.