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Archive for the ‘USAID’ Category

CGD Asks, “Is USAID Being Set up to Fail on GHI?”

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
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Nandini Oomman, the Center for Global Development’s director of the HIV/AIDS monitor, co-wrote a blog piece with Rachel Silverman raising several important questions about the Global Health Initiative (GHI). The State Department-led Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) – which next month will be one year into its implementation – stipulates that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) assume leadership of GHI in September 2012, contingent upon fulfilling a set of 10 benchmarks. But what the QDDR does not make clear is exactly what leadership of GHI means. Oomman leaves the administration with three options going forward: move PEPFAR to USAID; keep the GHI at State; or remove PEPFAR from GHI. Read the full piece here and see below for details on the three options:

We know the deadline for the GHI’s transition to USAID is still a year away, but the administration has some difficult decisions to make, and quickly.  The President’s global development legacy is at stake if one of his biggest development initiatives is seen to fail. Here are the options, as we see them, along with their respective trade-offs–constraints, costs, and benefits:

1)  Move PEPFAR to USAID. Perhaps this option makes the most sense programmatically (unified leadership, horizontal integration with reproductive health, etc)., but it’s a non-starter politically. PEPFAR is protected as an independent structure until its authorizing legislation expires in 2013, and there is no political will to challenge that status quo.

2)  Keep the GHI at State. Under this scenario, the State Department would renege on its highly public QDDR plans to move the GHI to USAID, and would maintain control of the initiative under an executive director. State holds some authority over OGAC and could realistically serve as a coordination point between the GHI agencies, as it has done thus far. But there are two good reasons why this scenario doesn’t make sense: 1) global health is not the State Department’s area of technical expertise and the creation of another global health entity in State will be inefficient when plenty of expertise lies elsewhere in the USG. 2) This option could also be a public relations nightmare; the State Department would need to do serious damage control and protect USAID’s reputation. It will need to be clear about its rationale for the decision, emphasizing the structural considerations and why it’s best for the success of the GHI. However, this option will damage the administration’s efforts to build USAID as the premier U.S. development agency.

3)  Remove PEPFAR from the GHI. If USAID is to lead the GHI but not PEPFAR, then PEPFAR, operationally, will cease to be a part of the GHI, especially because it has its own reporting line to Congress. If we continue down this path, the administration should formally remove PEPFAR from the GHI portfolio and eliminate the targets for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention as GHI targets. Under this “efficiency” scenario, USAID would be able to focus its energy on the remaining GHI programs and goals – those which it actually controls – and could be realistically accountable for the corresponding results. However, this course of action would fundamentally alter the original intent and design of the GHI to build on PEPFAR’s “platform” and would demonstrate the unfortunate reality that funds appropriated in a siloed, vertical structure don’t really lend themselves to policy and program level integration . Forfeiting the opportunity to integrate HIV/AIDS programs with reproductive health efforts, for example, will unfortunately turn the GHI in to a more “business as usual” health program approach to global health.


USAID Launches FWD Campaign

Thursday, October 27th, 2011
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Yesterday, the U.S. Agency for International Development, in partnership with the Ad Council, launched a national public awareness campaign to help spread the word about the current crisis in the Horn of Africa. The campaign, entitled FWD – Famine, Ware, Drought, encourages people to share facts about the crisis, support the humanitarian organizations conducting the relief operations, and learn more about the solutions through Feed the Future. See below for a spot on the campaign:


To launch the campaign, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah joined Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the National Security Council, for a live webchat to discuss FWD and answer questions. You watch the webchat below:

Sec. Clinton to Attend Busan Forum

Friday, September 23rd, 2011
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See below for a guest post from MFAN Principal Noam Unger, fellow and director of the Foreign Assistance Reform Project, and Homi Kharas, senior fellow and deputy director of the  Development Assistance and Governance Initiative, both of the Brookings Institution. They react to Secretary Clinton’s announcement that she will be attending the High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Korea and consider what the move signals for U.S. leadership in development. This post originally appeared on the Brookings Up Front blog.

Hillary Clinton to Attend Busan Forum: Demonstrating Development Diplomacy?

Noam Unger and Homi Kharas

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just announced that she will attend the upcoming High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea. Although this event will be the fourth such forum – following on Rome (2003), Paris (2005) and Accra (2008) – it will be the first time the U.S. is represented at such a high level.

We view Clinton’s attendance as a positive step, having made the case for it privately in meetings and openly in publications (see our policy paper and this recent brief). But how does her attendance fit into the context of reforms to elevate global development within the U.S. government? And how can her participation lead to a better High-Level Forum? Here are some of our thoughts:

The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), issued at the end of 2010, focused in part on how the State Department can play a role in elevating development within U.S. foreign policy. It explicitly states:

“Elevating development as a core pillar of U.S. foreign policy requires not just rebuilding USAID into the world’s premier development institution, but also transforming the Department of State to support development. Secretary Clinton recognizes that while diplomacy and development are each critical in their own right, when they work together they are the basis on unrivaled civilian power to advance U.S. interests. For too long, however, the Department of State has not always been a willing and capable partner for USAID in supporting the development pillar of our foreign policy.”

The review goes on to note that State should systematically use diplomacy to advance development by negotiating and promoting international policy agreements in the context of multilateral forums in a way that complements USAID rather than treading on that agency’s expertise.

The transformation of the State Department to better support development makes many development assistance advocates and close observers nervous about further absorption and instrumentalization of operational assistance programming into the toolkit of diplomacy. The construct of the three “D’s” – development, diplomacy and defense – as distinct pillars of U.S. national security and foreign policy can quickly morph into a two-dimensional frame that blurs diplomacy and development while setting them apart from military efforts. Given USAID’s recent history of eroded independence, this is a legitimate concern especially with regard to increased roles for the State Department in operational aid programs and aid budget management.

But there are many ways the State Department can support development by drawing on its comparative advantages. For example, in conflict-affected states where an international military presence is required, State can use its expertise and influence with other departments, governments and international organizations to shape coherent stabilization efforts that are conducive to development.

A more obvious comparative advantage is the international prominence of the Secretary of State, which should be put to good use in Busan. So while USAID should naturally continue to lead in shaping U.S. positions for Busan— after all it’s a global development conference — Clinton’s participation should enable the U.S. to leverage her unique profile on the global stage. As one of us previously noted in reference to the OECD ministerial meeting in May 2011, “Secretary Clinton must continually use development diplomacy opportunities to empower USAID and its administrator, Rajiv Shah, in the eyes of other U.S. government and international officials. Secretary Clinton is certainly capable of using her star power in this way, but will she?”

With regard to the High-Level Forum itself, Secretary Clinton’s commitment to attend is already serving as a game-changer that could snatch a politically meaningful result from the jaws of an otherwise technocratic aid conference. Six years ago in Paris, at an earlier conference on aid effectiveness, rich countries committed themselves to make changes in the way they delivered aid to improve its impact. They have made some progress on this and the efforts are contributing to better development results, but the pace has been slow. As panelists at a recent Brookings conference argued, this is mostly because the necessary improvements in aid delivery require tough political support. In essence, the reforms would transfer more control over resources to beneficiaries in return for greater accountability on results. Persuading Congress and the public that that is a sensible approach to improving the “bang-for-the-buck” for U.S. taxpayers is essentially a political issue.

Busan will be a political event in other ways as well. There are now many international forums that deal with development in overlapping ways, including the United Nations and the G-20, and many more providers of development cooperation, including China and other emerging economies. Busan must reposition the aid industry to work better in this environment, taking the discussions beyond aid into a more systematic “development effectiveness” agenda. The attendance of Secretary Clinton, and the other foreign ministers who will now be encouraged to attend, can signal that this repositioning is underway. Maybe then new forms of aid partnerships can be built, including with the private sector, so that aid and other instruments of development cooperation can catalyze and accelerate improved living standards in the poorest parts of the world.

Lastly, as one of the world’s strongest voices on greater investment in women and girls, Secretary Clinton’s participation provides a new opportunity to add a focus on gender to the development agenda at Busan.


Brookings Paper Offers Recommendations on Anniversary of PPD

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
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MFAN Principal Noam Unger’s recent paper for the Brookings Institution, “The Shape of U.S. Global Development Reforms,” offers a number of recommendations to the Obama administration on the eve of the first anniversary of the President’s global development policy, also known as the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD).

The PPD was released to help U.S. government correct course after years of failing to strategically employ its full array of policy instruments to address the challenges posed by global poverty and conflict. The PPD was a momentous document that dramatically raised expectations within the development community, which largely felt that U.S. development efforts had been greatly undermined by outdated legislation, a fragmented aid infrastructure, and a neglected and weakened USAID.

Unger, who directs Brookings’ Foreign Assistance Reform Project, assesses the pace and scope of reform in the context of new global challenges posed by fragile states, as well as dramatically increased budget pressures. He finds that USAID is much more likely to emerge as a strategic and influential institution in the coming year, thanks to the implementation of the USAID Forward reforms, renewed focus on evaluation, greater dedication to developing Country Development Cooperation Strategies, and the creation of the Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning and reestablishment of the Office of Budget and resource Management. Unger also emphasizes the less visible impact of the PPD and USAID Forward reforms, namely overdue institutional and cultural changes within USAID’s bureaucracy.

Unger faults the administration for failing to achieve greater development policy coherence, notably by dragging its heels in the creation of a U.S. Global Development Council and formulation of a U.S. Global Development Strategy. President Obama’s stated policy to reestablish USAID as the government’s preeminent development agency is challenged by major sectoral programs that remain independent of USAID, especially PEPFAR and the Global Health Initiative. He criticizes the PPD for failing to provide clear guidelines on how best to overcome organizational fragmentation and modernize the U.S. government’s development infrastructure, noting that, “Major structural reforms were overlooked, dismissed or intentionally left out.”

He also gives the administration a failing grade on their lack of attention to differentiating clear organizational responsibilities in conflict prevention and crisis response, explaining that the QDDR assumes, “a distinction—between political and security crises on one hand and humanitarian crises on the other—that is often blurred in reality.” Unger expresses concern that the progress already made in transitioning from U.S. military to civilian leadership in frontline states may be reversing as scarce resources remain within the purview of the Pentagon and budgets shrink at State and USAID.

Unger is disappointed by what he perceives as a considerable gulf between the executive and legislative branches on development, far from the grand bargain imagined by the PPD that would exchange greater transparency for increased flexibility (through a reduction in legislated directives, earmarks, and procedural obstruction). He calls for increased consultation with Congress to preserve the development budget, educate skeptical lawmakers on the pace of current reforms, and advance efforts to craft modern legislation that would replace the outdated Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.

Unger concludes his assessment by encouraging the administration to seize the opportunity presented by the first anniversary of the PPD to rededicate itself to fundamental reforms. His recommendations include completing the Foreign Assistance Dashboard to enhance transparency, establishing the U.S. Development Council, consolidating some of the twenty agencies responsible for development assistance, tracking U.S. policies such as subsidies or military sales that have a development impact, granting USAID oversight of PEPFAR and the MCC, revitalizing Congressional engagement, and seizing the opportunities presented by the G20 and the Busan High Level Forum to assert U.S. leadership in the global movement for aid effectiveness.


Deputy Administrator Steinberg Addresses Reform at InterAction Forum

Thursday, August 11th, 2011
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U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy Administrator Don Steinberg spoke at MFAN partner InterAction’s Forum 2011 yesterday, offering insight into the “new development landscape.” He assessed the OECD Development Assistance Committee’s recent review of U.S. development efforts, highlighting some of their recommendations:

“We’ve moved forward on aid effectiveness principles, including accountability, transparency and sustainability by focusing on procurement reform, country ownership, on-budget programs, and monitoring and evaluation….

“They warned that there is diminishing support for foreign assistance in the U.S. Congress in light of severe fiscal constraints and pressing domestic needs. They questioned whether the U.S. will maintain current assistance levels; much less ever achieve the 0.7 percent of GDP level.

“They again highlighted the confusion of 27 separate U.S. government agencies in the development arena, threatening policy coherence and risking redundancy. They warned that humanitarian and development priorities are increasingly influenced by national security concerns, especially counter-insurgency and stabilization operations.

“And they called on the U.S. to re-emerge as a thought leader, building on AID’s progress in re-establishing its policy bureau; conducting evidence summits and grand challenges; incorporating science, technology and innovation in our work; and launching new strategies in education, climate change, countering violent extremism, gender and the youth bulge.”

In preparation for this winter’s High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Deputy Administrator Steinberg laid out several key issues. The U.S. “must put results at the center of our development agenda,” “move beyond a focus on Official Development Assistance (ODA) to a broader concern with ‘development effectiveness,’” and ensure “realistic and transparent” coordination among donor nations and NGOs.

Deputy Administrator Steinberg’s full remarks are available here.