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Archive for the ‘MFAN Statement’ Category

MFAN Statement: Congress Avoids Catastrophic Aid Cuts, Advances Reform in FY12 Budget

Monday, December 19th, 2011
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December 19, 2011 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

We are pleased that Congress avoided making catastrophic cuts to foreign assistance in the Fiscal Year 2012 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.  We appreciate the efforts of the policymakers who fought to protect these critical programs, and we commend them for using the bill to advance some key foreign assistance reform priorities that will lead to better results for U.S. taxpayers and people in developing countries.

The $42.1 billion base funding level represents a continued and troubling downward trend, which remains a major concern as Congress and the Administration turn to the Fiscal  Year 2013 budget in February.  However, when the core budget is taken together with increased funding for Overseas Contingency Operations, our development-focused programs weathered what could have been a disastrous and irreversibly damaging budget cycle. We hope Members of Congress will maintain their support for these critical programs in the difficult budget negotiations in coming years.

Certain elements of the bill advance key foreign assistance reform priorities, including increasing transparency and accountability, strengthening country ownership, empowering a 21st-century U.S. development agency and encouraging more strategic and effective program design in the field:

  • The U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Operating Expenses, which largely fund the landmark internal reform agenda underway at the Agency, only suffered a small reduction, far less than what had originally been proposed in the House Committee-passed version of the bill.
  • Per the Obama Administration’s pledge to restore USAID’s standing as the premier global development agency, the bill draws explicit attention to the need to undertake a transparent process of transitioning full responsibility for the marquee Global Health Initiative (GHI) to USAID, as called for in the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR).
  • In an effort to make U.S. development efforts more sustainable on the ground, we applaud the bill’s support for a pilot program to reform procurement practices by increasing opportunities for indigenous organizations to compete for grants.
  • We support the bill’s language promoting gender equality and the meaningful participation of women in all development efforts.
  • We also commend the provision of assistance to improve fiscal transparency standards for developing country budgets and contracts, including support for civil society organizations to promote transparency.

We look forward to working with the Administration and the Congress to strengthen these and other reforms, including through specific reform legislation next year, building on leadership efforts by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) this year.

 

MFAN Statement: Sec. Clinton Speech in Busan Reaffirms U.S. Commitment to Aid Effectiveness

Thursday, December 1st, 2011
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November 30, 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:

MFAN commends Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration for announcing at the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea that the United States will sign on to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).  The U.S. will join 25 other bilateral and multilateral donors from around the world in committing to publish up-to-date data on foreign assistance in a common, open format that is accessible and comparable.

The announcement builds on the launch last December of the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, which begins to show where and how much the U.S. Government is spending on assistance.  We applaud the addition last week of the Millennium Challenge Corporation to the Dashboard, and look forward to the eventual inclusion and participation of all U.S. agencies engaged in overseas development.

We also hope the Administration will honor its pledge to incorporate comprehensive  and standardized reporting on budget, financial, program, and performance data from all U.S. agencies, as called for in the bipartisan Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 3159) sponsored by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Howard Berman (D-CA).

Taken together, these steps would allow both American citizens and those in partner countries to see where U.S. tax funds are going and how these dollars are helping to facilitate economic growth, alleviate poverty, and stymie disease. As Secretary Clinton noted, greater transparency will make assistance more effective, by allowing donors and developing country governments to plan for and manage limited aid resources. Only with more and better information can developing-partner countries assume increased ownership of, and responsibility for, their own development.

MFAN Statement: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of USAID

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
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November 3, 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:

Today, on the 50th anniversary of the creation of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), we celebrate the work done by thousands of committed and selfless public servants – both U.S. citizens and foreign service nationals – in helping to alleviate poverty, fight diseases, and create economic opportunity for struggling people in the world’s poorest countries. These efforts, which have resulted in tens of millions of lives saved or improved, have been as important to our security and prosperity over the last five decades as any defense or diplomatic program.

USAID has been a central player in some of the most astounding development successes in world history. Agency experts helped design and drive the Green Revolution, which brought modern agricultural practices to poor countries like South Korea in the middle of the 20th century. Today, South Korea is a stalwart U.S. ally and trading partner, as well as a foreign assistance donor itself. More recently, USAID played a key role in programs like President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which delivered unprecedented U.S. assistance to African countries that were bowing under the weight of a spreading AIDS epidemic. Today, many of the countries that received PEPFAR assistance are experiencing unprecedented economic and democratic growth, in no small part because people are simply staying alive. The agency’s development professionals have also served courageously alongside soldiers and diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they will soon bear a heavier burden for future safety and stability in the wake of troop withdrawals.

USAID’s critical role in U.S. foreign policy is clear, as is the agency’s commitment to modernizing itself for the 21st Century. In the midst of growing challenges abroad and budget pressures at home, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah has launched an unprecedented internal reform effort aimed at making sure every taxpayer dollar committed to development goes as far as possible towards helping those in need. Now more than ever, we urge policymakers to support the agency’s efforts to maintain U.S. leadership on global development. As President John F. Kennedy said at the dawn of the U.S. foreign assistance system 50 years ago, America’s development investments provide hope to people who are “under attack from widespread misery and social discontent which are exploited by our adversaries, and this permits us to speak with a much stronger and more effective voice.” The message still rings true today.

MFAN Statement: Super Committee Must Protect Foreign Assistance Programs and Reform Progress

Thursday, October 20th, 2011
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October 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:

As the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction – the Super Committee – works toward delivering its final recommendations next month, we urge members to avoid making drastic and disproportionate cuts that would cripple U.S. foreign assistance programs and undercut reforms that are making these programs more effective and accountable than ever before.

To this end, we are concerned that several of the recommendations transmitted by the House Foreign Affairs Committee to the Super Committee could damage our nation’s ability to address urgent challenges, including turmoil in the Middle East, famine in Africa, and particularly the transitions from military to civilian control in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although we believe it is imperative to get the country’s fiscal house in order, we must not do so at the expense of national security. We urge Joint Committee Members to focus on a few key issues as they continue their work:

  • The United States Agency for International Development (USAID): The agency is being asked to bear a much bigger national security burden as a result of the issues outlined above, and we believe it is imperative that adequate funding for personnel and global operations be maintained. To ensure that every dollar of this funding is used pertinently and effectively, it is also critical to support aggressive internal reforms that are underway, including an overhaul of procurement practices and new efforts to bolster monitoring and accountability through the USAID budget and policy offices.
  • Foreign Assistance Funding Vehicles and Prioritization: The U.S. must be more selective about how and what to fund in terms of development, as the Obama Administration and leaders in Congress have said repeatedly. While taking steps like increasing resources for USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA) could help spur economic growth in developing countries, it would be counterproductive to fund this increase by siphoning resources away from the overall development assistance account, which supports health, education, and entrepreneurship programs that are the backbones of growth in the first place.
  • Multilateral Organizations: U.S. leadership in supporting multilateral organizations like those in the World Bank group has been behind some of the greatest advances in health and development the world has ever known. Particularly in a time when budgets are tight, our support for multilaterals and the leveraging it provides with our allies will help make our development investments go further.

Maintaining support for foreign assistance, including the unprecedented reform process underway across the U.S. government, will keep the U.S. strong abroad while ensuring U.S. taxpayer dollars are spent as effectively as possible.

 

MFAN Statement: Poe Bill Would Strengthen Foreign Assistance Transparency, Accountability

Thursday, October 13th, 2011
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October 12, 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:

MFAN applauds Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) for introducing the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 3159), which calls for more coherent and consistent monitoring and evaluation of U.S. foreign assistance programs. The proposed legislation has attracted a strong list of co-sponsors from both parties, signaling broad support for U.S. development programs that are critical levers of U.S. influence in an increasingly complex global environment. The legislation also affirms the consensus among Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle that reforming U.S. foreign assistance is imperative in today’s tight budget environment.

The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 calls for making information on U.S. foreign assistance more accessible to the public and our partners in development. The bill would do so by expanding the Obama Administration’s Foreign Assistance Dashboard initiative to include comprehensive reporting from each agency engaged in overseas development, while requiring that these agencies produce and make available measurable goals and clear strategies for foreign assistance programs.

These steps would allow American citizens to access information on where taxpayer-funded foreign assistance is going and how it is impacting economic growth, poverty alleviation and disease eradication. Increased transparency would also give Congress the ability to exercise more effective oversight of foreign assistance programs. Finally, more transparency will help our developing country partners access timely information that can inform their own efforts. This is critical, given that the Obama Administration and Republicans and Democrats in Congress have called for recipient countries to take more ownership of, and responsibility for, their own development.

Congressman Poe’s bill is an important first step toward making lasting, statutory reforms that will ensure U.S. foreign assistance programs are more transparent, accountable, and effective.  We look forward to working with Rep. Poe, House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Howard Berman (D-CA), the bill’s additional co-sponsors, and other Members of Congress to enact this bill during the 112th Congress.