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Archive for the ‘MFAN Statement’ Category

MFAN Statement: MFAN Applauds Congressman Howard Berman’s Introduction of Global Partnerships Act to Modernize U.S. Foreign Assistance

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
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December 12, 2012 (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 commend Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA), a leading advocate for U.S. global development programs and foreign assistance reform, for introducing the Global Partnerships Act of 2012 (H.R. 6644).

The goal of H.R. 6644 is to replace the outdated Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 with a modern, responsive legislative foundation to guide U.S. development programs. As Congressman Berman has long said, it is critically important to have this kind of clear roadmap for development in a world that has changed so dramatically over the last 50 years. The legislation embraces the principles of effective, sustainable development that are now considered best practice in the international community and referenced in President Obama’s landmark Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD). MFAN is particularly pleased with the priority placed on the following reforms:

  • Promoting country ownership and partnering with local governments and citizens to set priorities;
  • Strengthening accountability and transparency through rigorous monitoring and evaluation;
  • Ensuring program decisions are evidence-based; and
  • Adopting a more integrated, coordinated, outcome-based approach to development that is flexible within and across sectors and agencies.

Congressman Berman and his staff deserve special credit for their consensus-building efforts around the bill, achieved through a series of consultations—many of which MFAN convened—with organizations and individuals in the development community. This bill reflects a shared vision from the community, including about the importance of reforms that are already being implemented, such as USAID’s five-year Country Development Cooperation Strategies, the MCC’s recently released independent impact evaluations, and the Foreign Assistance Dashboard.

The introduction of the Global Partnerships Act provides an opportunity for Members of Congress, including new Members, to work together in a bipartisan fashion to strengthen accountability and effectiveness in U.S. development programs. As the 113th Congress approaches, we encourage policymakers to consider this comprehensive, long-overdue proposal that would bring our foreign assistance into the 21st century and allow us to more effectively address new and pending global challenges.


MFAN Statement: President Obama Can Use Second Term to Solidify Gains, Drive Additional Progress on Foreign Assistance Reform

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012
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November 13, 2012 (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 wishes to congratulate President Barack Obama, as well as returning and new Members of Congress, for their victories in the 2012 elections. With regard to U.S. development and foreign assistance efforts, this is an important moment to look back at the accomplishments of the last four years and ahead to the clear opportunities of the coming term.

During President Obama’s first term in office, we saw significant progress made in elevating, reforming, and reshaping U.S. development programs. The President built on efforts by the Bush Administration to create a new model for U.S. foreign assistance, taking them a step further by releasing the first-ever Presidential Policy Directive on Development (PPD). The PPD established a roadmap for transforming our development programs with a greater focus on country-led approaches, monitoring and evaluation, transparency and accountability, and more efficient partnerships and coordination between the public and private sectors. To execute this vision effectively, the President supported a landmark internal reform process to revitalize the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and launched innovative new programs like Feed the Future and the Partnership for Growth. We applaud the President, his staff, and other key players from the Administration and Congress for having the courage to push these reforms.

The next four years offer the opportunity to solidify gains and drive additional progress. MFAN will focus specifically on four key areas, which will be discussed in more detail in a forthcoming set of transition recommendations:

  • Institutionalizing reform by working with Congress to pass key legislation, like the Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act, which enjoys support from Democrats and Republicans in both chambers.
  • Strengthening U.S. leadership in global development by producing an overarching global development strategy.
  • Improving transparency and accountability by ensuring that relevant agencies follow OMB guidelines and submit information to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), and that such information is cross-posted to the dashboard.
  • Transitioning from aid to development cooperation by rethinking our relationship with middle-income and other countries where non-aid tools, such as trade and investment, can have a stronger impact.

These are big and ambitious undertakings but we believe they are realistic and achievable. We are particularly optimistic of success because of what we heard on the 2012 campaign trail. Both President Obama and Governor Romney spoke publicly about the importance of U.S. efforts to alleviate poverty, drive economic growth, and eradicate disease in developing countries. We hope that policymakers in both parties will agree that our ability to maintain our leadership and leverage on a changing world stage, and turn the unprecedented development gains of the past decade into lasting change, will rest heavily on how well we use non-military tools of foreign policy like development and diplomacy.

We look forward to working with our MFAN partners, the Obama Administration, and the next generation of development leadership in Congress to continue reforming U.S. foreign assistance to make it more effective and accountable.


MFAN Statement: New Evaluations Advance Transparency and Provide Valuable Guidance for Future Programs

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
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October 23, 2012 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN).

With the release of the first round of impact evaluations, MFAN is pleased that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) continues to push forward and insist that we prove the effectiveness of U.S. development programs, be transparent about the successes and challenges, and, importantly, learn from our experiences. MFAN’s Co-Chairs and Principals submitted the following statements in support of the evaluations released today.


“The Millennium Challenge Corporation’s impact evaluations are a tremendous step forward in improving transparency and effectiveness within U.S. development programs. We’ve lobbied for such evaluations for years and are pleased to see the MCC moving forward. They speak to the value and impact of development programs on the ground and will provide a roadmap for improvements. We hope these evaluations encourage Congress to continue to invest in improving the lives of people in developing countries.”

– Rev. David Beckmann, MFAN Co-Chair and President, Bread for the World

“The MCC has been at the head of the movement toward more rigorous monitoring and evaluation of foreign assistance programs, a difficult, complex, and absolutely essential step toward more accountable and effective development.  Tremendous kudos to the MCC for putting its reputation and work on the line through transparent, honest, rigorous evaluations, and sharing the results — thereby allowing us all to learn and setting an example for other development agencies and organizations, both public and private. This path-breaking effort is putting to the test long-held assumptions about how to promote development and is just the type of learning we need if we are to use our assistance resources effectively.”

– George Ingram, MFAN Co-Chair

“From its inception, MCC was designed with a commitment to transparency and evidence-based decision making.  The release of these results puts that promise into action.  The discussion that follows from this and future evaluations is vitally important, because it is only through critical assessment that the MCC will be able to fulfill its dual mission to have greater impact in the lives of the world’s poor while at the same time providing better stewardship of U.S. taxpayer dollars.”

– Jim Kolbe, MFAN Co-Chair and former Congressman

“We applaud the Millennium Challenge Corporation on the publication of its first round of impact evaluations. In addition to providing more rigorous analysis of how U.S.-funded MCC programs are improving the lives of citizens in partner countries, the evaluations contain lessons that will enable the MCC to advance their future policy and programs. ONE continues to be impressed by the MCC’s dedication to transparency, impact monitoring, and poverty reduction.”

– Tom Hart, U.S. Executive Director, ONE

“The MCC’s release of its first independent impact evaluations has set a high bar for other U.S. agencies and for aid agencies around the world. The challenge for the MCC is to integrate its findings, both good and bad, into its future work. The challenge for the rest of us, including those on Capitol Hill, is to understand the subtleties of the results. We should all want to encourage sensible risk-taking and more honest assessments.”

– Todd J. Moss, Acting President and Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development

“MCC has set a very high standard by investing in rigorous evaluation and demonstrating its commitment to transparency and accountability for results — a standard that no other U.S. foreign assistance program has matched.  It is evidence of the agency’s overall commitment to holding itself accountable for results:  MCC was recently ranked 9 out of 72 donors globally for its transparency, ahead of Canada, Germany, Japan, and France.  Other donors, and the U.S. government as a whole, should be paying attention and following suit: that the MCC is willing to show the bad with the good is a risk only to the extent that we have few other institutions to compare them with.

“With these impact evaluations, MCC is serving as a model for bi-partisan efforts in Congress.  The bipartisan Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act (H.R. 3159/S.3310) sponsored by Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Howard Berman (D-CA) and Sens. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) (S.3310), would help make this type of rigorous accountability the standard for U.S. foreign assistance efforts.   Congress should act to embrace MCC’s efforts and raise the level of accountability for programs to fight poverty and build a better world.”

– Ray Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America

“MCC deserves an enormous amount of credit for its first round of impact evaluations, which focused on farmer training activities in five countries. Some of the key findings underscore that reducing poverty by changing farmer behavior and improving productivity depends on a number of factors, such as the customizing of training programs, time spent with farmers, and inputs provided. As an organization that is establishing frameworks for companies to measure the social and economic impact of their business operations on individuals and communities, we know how challenging it can be to move beyond the measurement of outputs to fully understand and quantify outcomes. By publicizing its results and sharing how those results will drive program improvements, MCC is modeling a commitment to transparency that other development agencies should follow. The evidence base created will not only inform other development organizations, but also the investments of our member companies in agriculture value chains. Those of us who care deeply about development outcomes, whether driven by business investment or foreign assistance dollars, should support the honest assessment of results embodied in these first impact evaluations as well as the culture of learning they enable.”

– Jennifer Potter, President & CEO, Initiative for Global Development

“Committed to transparency since the beginning, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is truly ‘walking the walk’ through today’s release of its first set of impact evaluations. These evaluations of farmer training programs in Armenia, El Salvador, Ghana, Honduras, and Nicaragua, are honest about what’s working and what could be improved. This transparency is critical to ensuring that women and men are able to make decisions about and truly ‘own’ MCC projects in their countries. We hope that the next series of evaluations will include tools to assess the unique impact of MCC programs on women and girls, such as the use of sex-disaggregated data. For now, though, we hope Congress sees these evaluations as a prime example of the MCC’s leadership in transparency and accountability — principles that we know are vital to ensuring the effectiveness of U.S. international assistance.”

– Ritu Sharma, Co-founder & President, Women Thrive Worldwide

“Impact evaluations aren’t about pass or fail for specific projects. Development programs — and the MCC compacts — comprise multiple complex activities. Some may turn out well, others may flop, and the measure of a strong organization is that it wants to know the difference and learns and improves when it finds out. The MCC is taking brave steps in this direction.”

– Sarah Jane Staats, Director of the Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Initiative, Center for Global Development

“InterAction welcomes the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s release of its first set of impact evaluations. The principles of transparency and accountability are important pillars of effective development for both governmental and nongovernmental organizations alike. The impact evaluations demonstrate the MCC’s commitment to these principles and to implementing programs based on concrete evidence.  The MCC’s willingness to share information on both the successes and challenges of its programs and to apply the lessons learned is a model for the aid community.”

– Sam Worthington, President & CEO, InterAction


MFAN Statement: Development Community Declares Support for USAID’s Procurement Reform Initiative

Thursday, September 27th, 2012
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September 27, 2012 (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 pleased that dozens of development practitioners, foundations, implementers, and scholars have joined together to voice support for USAID’s Implementation and Procurement Reform (IPR) initiative. USAID’s IPR initiative will help to empower local citizens in partner countries to drive the development process, combat corruption, and hold their own governments accountable.

Development is a complex process, requiring a collaborative effort by many different types of people, institutions, and organizations. There is bipartisan agreement that in the 21st century, the U.S. must work through a broader spectrum of partners—including local civil society, the private sector, and multilaterals—to increase the effectiveness of precious development resources. Secretary Clinton reinforced this objective this week when she said “…we need to broaden and increase our network of partnerships to advance our work in development,” which Republican candidate Mitt Romney echoed yesterday when he said the U.S. should embrace the  private sector as a development partner.

Whether the goal is improving water quality and sanitation, supporting entrepreneurs through loans and financing, or building hospitals and schools, the last link in this chain is always a community that is eager to take greater control of their own economic development.

President Barack Obama’s 2010 Global Development Policy promised to “Empower responsible governments to drive development and sustain outcomes by working through national institutions rather than around them.” The reforms being pursued by USAID will do just that. We are proud to be joined by a diverse coalition to support this worthy effort.


MFAN Statement: Development Must Play a Larger Role in QDDR Legislation

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
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September 19, 2012 (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 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for taking the first step toward enshrining the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) into law through the passage of S. 3341. However, we remain concerned that the QDDR, while a valuable exercise in determining the scope and trajectory of U.S. diplomacy and development efforts, fails to give the USAID Administrator a clearly defined leadership role in shaping the development portfolio. We understand that the Secretary has the ultimate authority over the QDDR, but failing to give a co-equal voice to what the President Policy Directive on Global Development refers to as “the U.S. government’s lead development agency” will undermine the goals set forth in the bill and walk back any gains made in elevating the role of development.

In its first iteration released in December 2010, the QDDR strengthened development as a core pillar of U.S. foreign policy; put development experts in the lead of marquee Obama Administration initiatives; sought to improve monitoring, evaluation, and transparency; and emphasized country ownership as a cornerstone of the U.S. approach to development. Critically, the USAID Administrator served as a co-chair of the review, ensuring that development concerns would have a voice in the dialogue shaping U.S. policy. The Administrator’s absence from S. 3341 sets a troubling precedent for future reviews.

Specifically, MFAN calls for:

  • USAID Administrator to serve as co-chair for the process;
  • The State Department and USAID to consult with other relevant development agencies to ensure a comprehensive assessment of USG development policy; and
  • A joint State-USAID office for the QDDR, rather than an office solely at State to reflect both components of the review.

While S. 3341 rightly seeks to codify a review of U.S. diplomacy and development programs every four years, the lack of emphasis on a strong and independent development voice implies backsliding in our prioritization of U.S. development efforts. The QDDR’s important assertion that “diplomacy and development must be mutually reinforcing” is not well served by the legislation in its current form.