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Archive for the ‘MFAN Statement’ Category

MFAN Statement: Budget Landscape Increases Urgency of Foreign Assistance Reform

Monday, February 14th, 2011
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February 14, 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:

As Congress begins debate this week on funding the government for the remainder of 2011, we support current spending levels in the international affairs budget. Foreign assistance is not a nice-to-have perk in a world where complex challenges defy narrow solutions; it is a must-have pillar of our foreign policy alongside diplomacy and defense. In addition, now more than ever, foreign assistance reform must move forward, in order to make sure we can get the most out of every dollar we spend on development.

We are acutely aware of the dangers a growing deficit and debt-to-GDP ratio pose to economic growth and security in the United States.  But disproportionately drastic cuts in the foreign assistance budget being considered by the House of Representatives this week would undo a decade’s worth of progress against global poverty and disease, and adversely affect our security, prosperity, and leadership in the world.

For around 1% of the federal budget, experts from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and other agencies are empowered to work hand-in-hand with our diplomats and members of the Armed Forces to help build accountable institutions and increase stability in “frontline” states like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Yemen.  These professionals are also deployed to help boost private-sector and middle-class growth and reduce poverty in developing countries, the fastest-growing markets in the world. Our development efforts in these countries are crucial to opening up export opportunities for American businesses and building stable, long-term trading partners and allies. Were we to pull back, the void left behind would surely be filled by other countries that do not share our values.

We must also finish the job of implementing the serious reforms to U.S. foreign assistance that have been pushed forward on a bipartisan basis over the last decade.  The focus now should be on two key actions, which will increase the effectiveness of all of our development programs, particularly marquee efforts like the Global Health Initiative and the Feed the Future agricultural development program:

  • Enacting USAID Forward: To transform USAID into a modern development enterprise so that it can make the best use possible of limited resources and achieve more dynamic results, the budget should provide strategic resources for strengthening accountability and evaluation; changing inefficient procurement practices; and investing in innovation, science, and technology.
  • Implementing the President’s Landmark Development Policy: To ensure that all U.S. development activities are more coordinated, efficient, and effective, the budget should focus resources on bolstering economic growth and democratic governance around the world, while at the same time being more selective about who gets our assistance and cutting programs in places where U.S. partners are ready to take more ownership and responsibility.

We call on the Administration and Congress to work together to complete the reforms and build a modern development enterprise for the U.S., so that we can maximize the returns on our development investments at a time of complex budgetary and geopolitical challenges.

MFAN Statement: RSC Budget Proposal Would Derail Progress on Foreign Assistance Reform

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
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January 26, 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:

We strongly oppose last week’s Republican Study Committee budget proposal, which would cut all operating expenses at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  The cuts would derail the comprehensive reform agenda underway inside the agency, at a time when its ability to perform effectively is crucial to our national security, our economic interests, and the lives and well-being of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people.

USAID is a crucial partner of the United States military in “frontline states” including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, where the agency’s civilian development professionals train security forces, support efforts to bolster democracy and the rule of law, and improve quality of life for people in areas where extremism thrives.  Secretary of Defense Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Mullen, and Afghanistan Commander Petraeus have called for strengthening these civilian programs, noting that the military does not want, and is not designed or equipped to carry, the extra burden of leading development programs.  Secretary Gates also said recently that helping countries develop “is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”

The agency also builds critical agricultural growth programs, entrepreneurship initiatives, and community health efforts that help developing countries, the fastest growing markets in the world, mature and become better partners for U.S. exports and investment.  Just as the U.S. supported the Green Revolution in agricultural development in the 20th century – which helped countries like South Korea become strong trading partners and stalwart allies – we must continue this work by supporting the growth of vibrant private sectors and healthy middle classes, thriving civil societies, and empowered citizens in developing countries.

Most importantly, USAID Administrator Raj Shah is making progress on a tough reform agenda that would decrease inefficiencies; make the agency more selective, accountable and better at evaluating results; “graduate” countries that no longer need U.S. assistance; and uphold economic growth and empowered citizens as core goals of all development efforts.  We believe this reform effort must be given a chance to succeed, and we hope bipartisan Members of Congress will play a constructive role in making the agency more effective and accountable by helping to enshrine these and other foreign assistance reforms in law.

MFAN Statement: USAID Dashboard a Strong Action Step on Reform

Friday, December 17th, 2010
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December 17, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

We applaud the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for launching the new US Foreign Assistance Dashboard—the first comprehensive, web-based tool that provides information to policymakers, aid partners, and the public about where U.S. foreign assistance is going and what impact it is having in saving lives and helping vulnerable people build livelihoods.

It is hard to overstate how important this new tool is to making U.S. foreign assistance more effective.  The Dashboard increases transparency in U.S. foreign assistance in an unprecedented way, and in doing so, it allows policymakers and aid partners to make more informed decisions, while also helping citizens here and abroad hold their leaders accountable for delivering results on development.

The launch of the Dashboard is a concrete sign that the Obama Administration is moving forward to implement the reforms outlined in the Presidential Policy Directive on Development and the recently-released Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR).  It is also a sign that Secretary Clinton and USAID Administrator Shah are serious about using innovation and technology to bring U.S. development efforts into the 21st century.  We look forward to working with the Administration to drive additional progress on implementing reforms, and we believe strongly that the most important step that can be taken in 2011 is for the Administration and Congress to work together to pass legislation that will give the reforms the force of law.

For additional information, please contact Sam Hiersteiner at 202-295-0171 or shiersteiner@gpgdc.com.

MFAN Statement: QDDR Paves Way for Real Reform

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010
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December 15, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

With today’s release of the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), the Obama Administration has finalized its roadmap for how U.S. foreign aid can be made more effective, efficient, and accountable in the 21st century.  This is absolutely critical in a resource-constrained world where our efforts to save lives and help vulnerable people build their own livelihoods are as important as our military and diplomatic activities.

Secretary Clinton, Administrator Shah and all the professionals who worked on the QDDR at the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and elsewhere across the government deserve enormous credit.  We are particularly pleased that the QDDR:

  • Strengthens the position of development as a core pillar of U.S. foreign policy and sets the stage for civilian development professionals to play a leadership role in America’s global engagement.
  • Institutes changes that will bring clearer lines of authority and responsibility for results to our marquee development programs, by putting USAID’s development experts in the lead on programs like Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative; giving the agency a stronger voice in the interagency policymaking process; and making USAID Chiefs of Mission the lead development advisors to U.S. Ambassadors in the field.
  • Strengthens monitoring and evaluation of development programs and makes future funding of such programs contingent on real results.
  • Places an emphasis on helping recipient countries take ownership of their own development.
  • Brings more transparency to development programs, including by instituting long-term development planning for recipient countries and launching a new web-based dashboard where the public can see how U.S. foreign assistance is delivering results.

These reforms would pay major dividends in terms of lives saved and improved around the world – and they would make sure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are getting into the hands of people who need them.  But they will only have lasting impact if the Administration and bipartisan Members of Congress work together to develop and pass legislation that establishes them in law.  We look forward to working with the Administration and Members of Congress on this legislation, and we stand ready to make sure the reforms are implemented effectively and transparently.

MFAN Statement: Secretary Clinton’s CFR Speech Falls Short on Development and Aid Reform

Thursday, September 9th, 2010
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September 9, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

In an important foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out the Obama Administration’s vision for a modern architecture for U.S. foreign policy, based largely on restoring U.S. global leadership.  Secretary Clinton called development a key feature of this approach, noting that the U.S. will make a concerted effort to develop the capacity of other countries to help lift themselves out of poverty, including by investing in women and girls and supporting countries, like Ghana, that can serve as bulwarks of regional stability.

Recognizing the critical role these efforts play in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary Clinton again highlighted the Administration’s commitment to elevating development as a pillar of our approach to global engagement.  We appreciate this supportive and consistent rhetoric and applaud what the Administration has done to launch new programs like Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative.  However, the Administration has yet to move forward with broad reforms of our foreign aid system, which needs to be updated to take on the challenges of the 21st century.

In the Secretary’s 70-minute address, she covered many topics yet was able to devote just 5 minutes to development—illustrating how other responsibilities of the State Department often crowd out attention to development.  While she talked about restoring the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as a world-class agency, it is not yet clear that USAID will be given the authority to lead U.S. development programs in the field.  Development assistance should be coordinated with the State Department, but development programs (helping poor farmers increase their food production, for example) require resolute focus—which USAID can provide better than State.

Secretary Clinton also stressed the importance of development in poor countries to our national security, but aid programs will not be successful unless they are unequivocally focused on development.  When the same dollars are supposed to provide help to poor people and, at the same time, serve other U.S. interests, poor people often get the short end of the stick.  Failure to address these critical issues and enact broad reform now would be a major missed opportunity and would hinder our ability to achieve sustainable results for people suffering from poverty, disease, and lack of opportunity in the developing world.