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Archive for the ‘MFAN Statement’ Category

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.

 

MFAN Statement: Lugar-Rubio Bill Signals Commitment to More Transparent, Accountable Foreign Assistance

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:

In a period of intense political polarization, MFAN is pleased that members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee came together to pass The Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 (S. 3310) earlier today. This bipartisan legislation demonstrates broad agreement that the U.S. has an important role to play overseas and that we can drive better development outcomes with these critical reforms.

S. 3310 was introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking (SFRC) Member Richard Lugar (R-IN), with the support of SFRC member Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), as a companion measure to H.R. 3159, a bipartisan bill introduced by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Howard Berman (D-CA) that has garnered 55 cosponsors in the House. Both bills would improve the overall transparency of and accountability for U.S. foreign assistance by establishing a common standard for measuring the performance of programs across every federal agency that administers foreign aid and ensuring that such evaluations and reports are made publicly available to American taxpayers.

S. 3310 builds on bipartisan legislation sponsored by SFRC Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Lugar in the 111th Congress (S. 1524)—and approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—that sought to increase the accountability and transparency of U.S. foreign assistance. It also reinforces important efforts by the Obama Administration to improve aid transparency, including creating the Foreign Assistance Dashboard to collect comprehensive reporting from each agency engaged in overseas development.

The U.S. approach to development must be a partnership between the executive and legislative branches, and we believe the passage of S. 3310 in SFRC is a strong indication of greater cooperation in the months and years to come. We urge the full Senate to approve this bill before the end of the 112th Congress and look forward to working with members of both the House and Senate on its passage.

 

MFAN Statement: Chabot-Isakson Bill Highlights Critical Role of Private Sector in Effective Development

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
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August 2, 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 Representative Steve Chabot (R-OH) for introducing H.R. 6178, which calls for the U.S. government to establish a more effective working relationship with private sector companies that are making critical investments in alleviating poverty, fighting disease, and bolstering economic growth in developing countries. The bill already has bipartisan cosponsors in the House, and companion Senate legislation (S.3495), introduced by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), has gained support from members of both parties as well.

Both the Obama Administration and the George W. Bush Administration have made positive changes in U.S. global development policy to leverage the private sector’s expertise, resources, and reach, but more needs to be done to fully realize the promise of a closer and better coordinated partnership. Congressman Chabot’s bill drives significant progress by calling for the establishment of a centralized point of contact for companies that are working on development issues, while also mandating more consistent engagement on the ground in emerging markets. These steps would remedy problems of coordination and communication that have existed for decades.

At a time of economic challenges when funding from many donor countries is stagnant, we must establish a stronger partnership on development with the private sector. We look forward to working with Congressman Chabot, Senator Isakson, and other supporters to successfully pass the House and Senate bills.

 

MFAN Statement: Administration Chooses Not to Remedy Leadership, Coordination Issues That Ail Global Health Programs

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
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July 10, 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:

The Obama Administration unfortunately yielded to inertia and interagency turf battles in deciding not to move leadership of the Global Health Initiative (GHI), America’s largest development program, to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), our premier development agency.

Transferring GHI leadership to USAID would have begun much-needed integration of our health programs into a more unified development structure, thereby strengthening our ability to take a holistic and strategic approach to alleviating poverty, fighting disease and driving economic growth in developing countries in the future.

We are concerned that our partners on the ground will continue to be confused about global health leadership and coordination, which will hamper efforts to effectively transition ownership of development programs to recipient countries. In addition, the practice of providing separate earmarks for development programs, which the Administration had specifically highlighted for reform, will continue to force agencies to compete against each other for dollars, rather than focus on cooperation and results. Viewed through these lenses, the Administration may have undermined its own landmark efforts to increase development effectiveness and accountability.

We cannot afford to let up on major reforms like this if we hope to show leadership and push further development progress in an era of economic and foreign policy challenges.

 

MFAN Statement: Senate Budget Bill Strong on Foreign Assistance and Reform

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
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May 30, 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:

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a strong FY13 State and Foreign Operations budget to support U.S. leadership in the fight against global poverty and disease. Acknowledging the challenging fiscal climate, we urge Congress to adopt the Senate bill and advance it to President Obama to sign into law.

The funding in the Senate Committee’s bill will help us reach two important goals. First, it will allow the U.S. to maintain a strong foreign assistance presence in the developing world, where our support is critical to bolstering nascent democracies, helping developing countries and citizens achieve self-sufficiency, and building constructive economic and security relationships. Second, it will maintain the momentum of a decade-long foreign assistance reform process, supported by both parties, that has made our approach more effective and accountable.

The language in the Senate Committee report highlights one particularly important step: Reforming the procurement policies and practices of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in order to “protect taxpayer dollars from waste and fraud”; reduce “our reliance on large, inflexible contracts”; and “work more directly with local governments and civil society to build capacity and develop sustainable programs.” We look forward to working with Congress, aid implementing organizations and USAID Administrator Raj Shah, who is leading the procurement reform effort, to see that further changes are enacted sensibly and carefully in support of greater ownership of the development process by developing countries and citizens.