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Archive for the ‘MFAN Statement’ Category

MFAN Statement: New Farm Bill Includes Key Reforms to International Food Assistance

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
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January 28, 2014 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs George Ingram, Carolyn Miles, and Connie Veillette

With the release of the 2014 Farm Bill, MFAN applauds Congress for including key reforms to U.S. international food assistance that would allow for greater flexibility and efficiency of our food aid programs . We commend the Farm Bill conferees, particularly the leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees –  Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS), Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN), respectively – for their bipartisan efforts in pushing for these common-sense reform provisions.

U.S. international food assistance programs are critical to helping hungry people in times of crisis as well as to securing long-term food security for the world’s most vulnerable. The reforms included in the Farm Bill will help make these programs more efficient and effective so that U.S. assistance can reach more hungry people around the world.

MFAN is supportive of the provisions included in the Farm Bill to improve international food aid, including:

  • The authorization of $80 million for Local and Regional Procurement (LRP), which will help save time and money and support local agriculture;
  • An increase in the share of Title II (Food for Peace) funds that can be used to cover non-commodity expenses of food aid programs, allowing for a decrease in the need to monetize commodities and an increase in flexibility;
  • Promoting transparency by requiring USAID to report on the costs involved in implementing food assistance programs, such as the cost recovery rate for monetized food aid.

We urge swift passage in both the House and Senate of the international food aid reform provisions included in the 2014 Farm Bill. Enacting these reforms will mean reaching hungry people faster and making U.S. taxpayer dollars more accountable.

MFAN Statement: Rubio-Cardin Foreign Aid Transparency Bill Moves Forward in the Senate

Thursday, November 14th, 2013
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November 14, 2013 (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 applauds the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for unanimously approving the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013 (S. 1271) introduced by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). This bipartisan legislation would strengthen U.S. development programs in an era of constrained budget resources by directing U.S. agencies involved in foreign assistance to focus on more coherent, consistent, and transparent monitoring and evaluation to ensure that we get the most out of every dollar we spend on foreign assistance.

While the Obama Administration has emphasized its commitment to greater transparency and efficiency, as is evidenced in efforts by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State to implement new evaluation policies, as well as by the U.S. committing to participate in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), there is still more work to be done. In the recently released 2013 Aid Transparency Index (ATI) by Publish What You Fund, the Millennium Challenge Corporation was ranked as the most transparent donor among the 67 global donors assessed; however, other U.S. agencies did not fare as well. Most notably, the Department of State and PEPFAR were ranked 40th and 50th respectively, falling into the ATI’s “Poor” and “Very Poor” categories.

The legislation would improve accountability, transparency, and overall effectiveness first by requiring the President to establish uniform interagency guidelines—with measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans—across all U.S. foreign assistance programs.  The bill would require that comprehensive, timely, and comparable data on all U.S. foreign assistance be made publicly available on the Foreign Assistance Dashboard. This would reinforce the good intentions of the Obama Administration, but also drive broader compliance from agencies and departments, as only six to date have posted information to the Dashboard since its launch in 2010. In addition, it would hold the Administration to account on its own existing policies, requiring that the uniform guidance be inclusive of security sector assistance as defined by the Security Sector Assistance (SSA) Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-23).

An earlier version of the legislation was introduced in the 112th Congress where it received an encouraging response. The bill was unanimously passed by the House with a vote of 390-0, and was unanimously approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but did not receive floor consideration before the session came to a close.

MFAN is strongly supportive of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013 (S. 1271) as an important step forward to codifying reforms that will ensure U.S. foreign assistance programs are more transparent, accountable, and effective and we commend Sens. Rubio and Cardin for their leadership on this issue. However, we feel the legislation must be rigorously applied to all foreign assistance programs, including those defined as security sector assistance by PPD-23. MFAN would also like to see the legislation track more closely with the commitment made by the U.S. to IATI, which would include publishing data on a quarterly basis, rather than a semi-annual basis as the bill currently prescribes.

MFAN Statement: Sharp Differences in House and Senate Spending Highlight Threat to Critical Foreign Assistance Reform Efforts

Friday, July 26th, 2013
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July 26, 2013 (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 are greatly concerned that a decade’s worth of measurable progress on foreign assistance – marked by millions of lives saved, landmark systemic reforms, and bold programmatic innovation – is at risk in the current FY2014 appropriations processes underway in Congress. While the Senate Appropriations Committee proposal for funding international affairs protects the core of programs considered vital to our national security and foreign policy, the House Appropriations Committee has adopted a proposal that would drastically reduce funding for these same programs and reorder priorities in a way that would severely undercut U.S. global leadership on development. This is unwise at a time when our diplomatic and development programs are key levers of influence amidst turmoil in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe.

Specifically, the FY2014 spending bills released by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are nearly $10 billion apart on funding for U.S. global health and development programs.  The spending plan for State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) approved Wednesday by the House Appropriations Committee includes huge and strategically damaging cuts. Multilateral assistance, which is a cornerstone of our cooperative engagement with allies to build self-sufficiency and ownership in developing countries, would be cut 61 percent. Our international disaster assistance, which is the lynchpin of the global response to unforeseen humanitarian crises, would drop 40 percent. Our development assistance, which funds programs that are successfully helping the world’s most vulnerable people overcome debilitating poverty and deadly diseases, would be slashed 26 percent.

In addition to the gutting of overall foreign assistance programs, the House budget contains substantial, ill-advised cuts to the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Operating Expenses budget of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The MCC, a bipartisan effort launched under President George W. Bush, has embodied many of the reform principles we are now seeing take hold across government as part of President Obama’s first-ever U.S. Global Development Policy, including a clear focus on broad-based economic growth achieved through country-led plans, evaluation of results, transparency, and policy reforms in partner governments. Meanwhile, Operating Expenses at USAID are supporting an agency-wide reform effort that has restored much-needed accountability, expertise, and capacity after years of steady decline.

Taken together and if passed, these cuts would represent a nearly full repudiation of the idea that the U.S. must lead the world on development. In contrast, the Senate’s FY2014 proposal for State and Foreign Operations maintains essential funding for USAID’s Operating Expenses and the MCC, as well as funding for international organizations—such as UNICEF and the World Health Organization—where the U.S. exercises a key leadership role.

Encouragingly, both Chambers have addressed initiatives to encourage more local procurement and we look forward to working with Congress to ensure that USAID and other agencies are given the flexibility they need to work through local partners in order to maximize development effectiveness and build sustainable local capacity.

As the appropriations process moves forward, we urge Congress to follow the Senate’s lead to maintain these smart investments in our nation’s security, prosperity, and leadership around the world.

 

MFAN Statement: Poe, Rubio Bills Would Strengthen Foreign Assistance Transparency, Accountability

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
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July 10, 2013 (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 Congressmen Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) for introducing the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013 (H.R. 2638; S. 1271). An earlier version of the bill received an encouraging response upon its initial introduction during the 112th Congress, where it sailed through the House with a unanimous vote of 390-0.

The bipartisan legislation would strengthen U.S. development programs that are critical levers of influence in an increasingly complex world by directing U.S. agencies involved in foreign assistance to employ more coherent, consistent, and transparent monitoring and evaluation.

This builds on work the Obama Administration has done to embed results-oriented learning practices in U.S. development programming, including new evaluation policies at the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of State, as well as a new U.S. commitment to participate in the International Aid Transparency Initiative. Specifically, the bills would improve accountability, transparency, and overall effectiveness first by requiring the President to establish uniform interagency guidelines—with measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans—across all U.S. foreign assistance programs. In addition, H.R. 2638 / S.1271 would require the President to maintain and expand the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, a public website with detailed information regarding U.S. foreign assistance on a program-by-program and country-by-country basis. The site, which is currently populated by only five U.S. government departments or agencies, would be updated quarterly by all agencies that administer foreign assistance, and would allow American taxpayers and partner countries the ability to access and track comprehensive, timely, and comparable data.

The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act is an important 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 Members of both the House and Senate to enact this legislation during the 113th Congress.

MFAN Statement: Food Aid Reform Act Would Maximize Efficiencies and Save Lives

Thursday, May 16th, 2013
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May 16, 2013 (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 commend House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Africa Subcommittee Ranking Member Karen Bass (D-CA) for introducing the Food Aid Reform Act (H.R. 1983). The legislation includes common sense reforms that would improve the effectiveness and efficiency of U.S. food aid. If adopted, the reforms proposed in this legislation would more feed more people, more quickly while saving taxpayers $500 million over the next ten years.

Since its founding, MFAN has advocated for bold action on food aid, an area where better policies would maximize efficiencies and save additional lives. In 2011, MFAN committed itself to advocate for common sense reforms, including eliminating restrictions on the use of local and regional food procurement; repealing inefficient cargo preference provisions; and scaling down food aid monetization, which Government Accountability Office research has demonstrated is “inefficient and can cause adverse market impacts.” The wide-ranging reforms proposed by Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Bass would significantly advance these objectives. The Food Aid Reform Act eliminates superfluous costs by ending monetization, reducing U.S.-only procurement requirements, and exempting food aid assistance from cargo preference.

The bill is timely, coming shortly after the President’s FY2014 budget request’s bold proposal to improve the Food for Peace program that distributes emergency food assistance. MFAN joined much of the development community in support of the President’s plan to enhance the long standing commitment of the American people to respond to emergencies and reduce hunger and poverty around the world, by reducing inflated procurement and transportation costs, continuing shipping commodities from the U.S. while removing harmful restrictions on purchasing food locally and regionally, and funding more sustainable practices that encourage agricultural self-sufficiency and food security. The Food Aid Reform Act legislation acknowledges these reform priorities and would provide humanitarian organizations with additional flexibility to respond to food emergencies.

With improved coordination, U.S. development and agriculture policies have the potential to catalyze lasting change in countries that struggle with chronic food insecurity, ultimately terminating dependence on U.S. assistance in the long term. If adopted and implemented, this legislation would replace an antiquated system with a data-driven, evidence-based approach to sustainable food security while preserving the deeply valued connection between farming communities in the U.S. and the developing world.

MFAN applauds the introduction of this strong reform legislation by Chairman Royce and Rep. Bass and urges other members of Congress to work with them in passing needed changes to our food aid system. When budgets are under severe strain and global hunger afflicts so many, we cannot afford to delay these important reforms.