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Archive for the ‘MFAN Statement’ Category

MFAN Statement: Bipartisan Passage of Poe Amendments Creates Momentum Towards Broader Reforms

Friday, July 22nd, 2011
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July 21, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram and Jim Kolbe:

The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved two reform-focused amendments authored by Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) during yesterday’s mark-up of the FY2012 Foreign Relations Authorization Act.  MFAN applauds the leadership of Congressman Poe in authoring these reform measures, and we also thank Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA) for pushing bipartisan support for the amendments, which passed the committee unanimously.

The two amendments, which would enhance transparency and monitoring and evaluation in U.S. foreign assistance programs, represent significant steps toward strengthening U.S. development efforts at a critical time:

  • The Monitoring and Evaluation amendment calls on the President to work with the leading development agencies to develop a clear and common set of guidelines to improve monitoring and evaluation programs for all U.S. foreign assistance programs.
  • The Transparency amendment also essentially codifies and expands the Administration’s new Foreign Assistance Dashboard initiative by directing the President to establish a searchable website for the publication of critical program funding and performance data for all foreign assistance programs.

The passage of the Poe amendments creates positive momentum for bipartisan congressional leadership on foreign assistance reform, and both amendments are designed to complement and improve upon the best practices and reform efforts that are underway within the Administration.

 

MFAN Statement: Foreign Relations Authorization Bill Would Roll Back Critical Reforms

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
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Proposed Foreign Relations Authorization Bill Would Roll Back Critical Reforms

July 20, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram and Jim Kolbe:

The Fiscal Year 2012 Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 2583), which is under consideration by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (HCFA) today, advances some useful pieces of the foreign assistance reform agenda, including prioritizing economic growth as a central goal of U.S. engagement with developing countries, fostering greater collaboration with non-government actors on development, streamlining the foreign assistance bureaucracy, and coordinating more effectively with international partners. Concrete steps in these areas would make U.S. foreign assistance more effective, at a time when increasingly complex geopolitical challenges and tight budgets demand that we get as much as possible out of every development dollar we spend.

However, we are concerned that other aspects of the legislation, particularly those having to do with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), would undermine these positive steps and turn back the unprecedented progress that has been made on reform:

  • Sec. 402: Cuts to operating expenses would make it impossible for USAID to move forward with comprehensive and long overdue internal reforms, which have already strengthened accountability and innovation at the agency.
  • Sec. 411: Stripping USAID of its budgeting capacity by defunding the agency’s Office of Budget and Resource Management would make the agency less accountable for results, not more.  The establishment of this office is a key pillar of the USAID Forward initiative and central to making USAID, and the foreign assistance it manages, more effective.

While we appreciate HCFA’s movement towards MFAN’s key goal of passing modern legislation to strengthen the effectiveness and accountability of U.S. development efforts, we urge the Committee not to cut the legs out from under USAID’s unparalleled efforts to reform itself.  Without a strong, empowered U.S. development agency, we will have one fewer tool in our foreign policy arsenal for confronting the global challenges of the 21st century.

 

MFAN Statement: SFRC Afghanistan Report Includes Positive Signs, Despite Challenges

Thursday, June 9th, 2011
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Senate Report on Afghanistan Foreign Assistance Includes Positive Signs, Despite Challenges

June 9, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs George Ingram and Jim Kolbe:

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) Report on Afghanistan assistance released yesterday contains some signs of progress, as well as compelling evidence that the Obama Administration’s efforts to reform U.S. foreign assistance are moving in the right direction. That said, we agree with the report’s conclusion that policymakers must create a long-term  development strategy for Afghanistan that is more comprehensive and accountable.  We continue to need a similar strategy, which was promised in last year’s Presidential Policy Directive on Development, for broader U.S. efforts to alleviate poverty, improve public health, and spur economic growth in poor countries. In both strategies, policymakers need to make clear distinctions between assistance for security purposes and assistance for development.

Despite the challenges and shortfalls noted by Senate investigators and the intense media focus on the negative aspects of the report, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic about  the direction of U.S. development efforts and policy in Afghanistan and more broadly:

  • The authors “recognize the value of foreign assistance in achieving our national security objectives,” while noting that slashing foreign assistance “is not the most prudent solution” and emphasizing the need for adequate State Department and USAID resources “to ensure a smooth transition” in Afghanistan;
  • The report applauds Administrator Shah’s reform initiatives, including USAID Forward, which are bolstering monitoring and evaluation around the world, overhauling procurement practices, and focusing more on building local capacity to deal with development challenges – all of which are at the root of the shortfalls in foreign assistance outlined by Senate investigators;
  • The report also highlights U.S.-backed Afghan development programs that “exemplify the goals of being ‘necessary, achievable and sustainable:’”
    • The National Solidarity Program, which “promotes subnational governance by setting up community development councils and training them to manage small-scale projects funded by block grants,” has been successful in part because of its “transparent, standardized, and streamlined” disbursements, local ownership of development initiatives, and “strong monitoring and evaluation.”
    • The Basic Package of Health Services, which provides public nutrition and maternal and child health services on levels ranging from community health posts to district hospitals, has increased health coverage rates to 85 percent in 2008 (from only 9 percent in 2003) nationwide and reduced infant mortality by 26 percent.
    • The number of children attending school in Afghanistan has increased sevenfold over the past decade.

We applaud SFRC Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and his committee staff for producing this timely and thorough report and urge policymakers to continue supporting both Afghan development programs and the Obama Administration’s overarching foreign assistance reform efforts, which aim to make U.S. assistance more effective, accountable, and results-oriented.

To read MFAN’s updated foreign assistance reform agenda, visit www.modernizeaid.net.

 

MFAN Calls for Reform of U.S. Development Policy in a Changing Middle East

Friday, April 15th, 2011
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WASHINGTON, April 13, 2011 — In the aftermath of significant cuts to the international affairs budget, and as policymakers work to reorient U.S. foreign policy in a tumultuous Middle East and North Africa, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) has released a new paper arguing for dramatic changes in the way the U.S. develops and implements foreign assistance programs in the region.

Building on the bipartisan momentum for foreign assistance reform in the U.S., “Charting a New Path for U.S. Foreign Assistance in the Middle East and North Africa” (attached) proposes a range of actions that will ensure future foreign assistance will be more effective, accountable, and responsive to the needs of citizens.  MFAN—a reform coalition composed of international development and foreign policy practitioners, policy advocates and experts, concerned citizens and private sector organizations—outlines short-term and long-term steps for U.S. policymakers to build the foundation for a sustainable partnership with civil society and responsible governments in transition.

To support continued progress in the Middle East and North Africa, the U.S. must:

  • Maintain momentum for change through aid projects with quick impact and high visibility;
  • Encourage citizens, civil society, and governments in transition to work together to  create their own visions and plans for equitable development;
  • Guarantee political space for the private sector, civil society, women, and youth;
  • Provide fewer resources to militaries and more resources and training for their civilian counterparts; and
  • Provide long-term and predictable support in exchange for commitments to good governance.

This white paper builds on MFAN’s deep engagement with policymakers and the public on reforming U.S. global development efforts for the 21st century. To date, MFAN has played a lead role in advocating for changes including bipartisan reform legislation in Congress, President Obama’s landmark global development policy, the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and USAID’s wide-ranging internal reform agenda. To learn more, please visit www.moderizeaid.net.

MFAN is a reform coalition composed of international development and foreign policy practitioners, policy advocates and experts, concerned citizens and private sector organizations. MFAN was created to build upon the bipartisan consensus that has emerged over the last decade that the U.S. should play a leadership role in achieving economic growth and reducing poverty and suffering around the world, and that we can play this role more effectively, efficiently, and transparently. In 2011-2012, MFAN will monitor and encourage the Administration’s development policy reform agenda and support action in Congress to achieve bipartisan agreement and legislation in support of reform.

MFAN STATEMENT: Budget Cuts Increase Urgency of Foreign Assistance Reform

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
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April 13, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram, and Jim Kolbe:

The significant cuts to U.S. foreign assistance announced as part of the FY11 budget agreement make it imperative that foreign assistance reform become a priority, so that we can get the most out of fewer resources for alleviating poverty, eradicating disease, and forging sustainable economic growth in developing countries.

At a time of increasingly complex global challenges, when our efforts to bolster public health and empower poor entrepreneurs are just as important as our military actions or diplomatic ventures, we must drive these reforms to increase our foreign assistance leadership, effectiveness, and accountability.

We are not starting from square one. Building on the landmark changes made under President Bush, the Obama Administration and bipartisan Members of Congress have increased the momentum for foreign assistance reform. Two related bills in the last Congress garnered bipartisan support. Late last year, President Obama unveiled America’s first-ever development policy, which focuses on economic growth, efficiency, and selectivity. The State Department completed the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, which laid out a path to better coordination in international affairs programs. And the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has pushed an aggressive internal cost-savings and reform effort, USAID FORWARD, under Administrator Raj Shah.

The current budget and geopolitical environments demand that the Obama Administration and bipartisan Members of Congress build on these reforms and finish the job of making U.S. foreign assistance more effective and accountable for the future.

Please visit www.moderizeaid.net for more information on MFAN’s reform agenda.