In case you missed it, watch the clip below for Deputy Secretary Thomas Nides’ briefing on the FY’12 budget request for the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Archive for the ‘USAID’ Category
As President Obama’s FY’12 budget proposal is released and the details start to crystallize around the FY’11 Continuing Resolution, MFAN Principals and Partners are hard at work defending the International Affairs budget and our development programs from severe cuts. See some clips below:
In an op-ed for The Guardian today, MFAN Principal and InterAction President Sam Worthington outlines key reasons why Republicans in the House should not cut foreign assistance, citing critical support from the military and private philanthropists. Worthington points at the Obama Administration’s efforts to reform foreign assistance amidst attempts to cut programs and offices: “This new pressure point on the foreign aid budget comes as the administration is trying to reform the US development agency. To implement those reforms will need investment, not turning off the spigot. If a group of more conservative Republicans get their way, they will eliminate federal funding for the US Agency for International Development (USAid).”
On Saturday, Worthington argued that any attempts to cut foreign assistance would be “penny-wise and pound foolish” in an op-ed for the National Review. Worthington described foreign assistance as an investment, writing, “Foreign assistance is a down payment for U.S. national security in that it helps to create a more stable and secure world. Investing in societies now reaps rewards for years to come and helps avert future military conflicts, which cost much more in blood and national treasure. Development is a key component of foreign policy strategy and must not be an afterthought.” He closed his piece by noting the power of American generosity and the need to resist being “stingy” in a complex world.
A Miami Herald column by Andres Oppenheimer cites MFAN Partner the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s analysis of the budget to make his own case against cuts to the State/USAID budget—calling such cuts “diplomatic suicide.” He also references an interview with Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) who said skimping on this investment now “will come back to bite us.” Read more of his column here.
See below for a post from Mark Lopes, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau at USAID. Lopes’ post, which first appeared on USAID’s Impact Blog, discusses a recent agreement made between USAID and its Brazilian counterpart that will leverage the partner countries’ collective resources to fight poverty and promote economic growth.
Staff Exchange Program Deepens Relationship Between Brazil and U.S.
By Mark Lopes, Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID/ Latin America and Caribbean Bureau
The US and Brazil took another step yesterday toward deepening our joint efforts in developing countries, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize a staff exchange program between USAID and the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC). Starting in April 2011, USAID will have a staff member working in ABC’s offices and vice versa. The program will facilitate peer-to-peer learning and create more opportunities to jointly leverage US and Brazilian assistance in third countries.
The USG’s trilateral arrangements with Brazil are a reflection of that country’s emergence as a global economic and diplomatic force and a net donor to development.
For the United States, the more donors with whom we can collaborate to address some of the world’s most intractable problems, the more we advance our national interests and provide paths out of poverty. In Brazil, we have a partner who shares our commitment to advancing global development; and who has come up with effective and innovative approaches to tackling some of the very same challenges facing developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa.
Through the staff exchange program, we are continuing to put into practice President Obama’s commitment to an equal partnership with the countries of this hemisphere, based on mutual respect, common interests and shared values.
In a recent post on the Wilson Center’s “The New Security Beat” blog, senior scholar John Sewell offers his perspective on the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which was released in December.
Sewell applauds the QDDR’s effort to empower the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), particularly around giving leadership of President Obama’s signature initiatives on food security and global health to USAID. He also highlights the internal reform agenda undertaken by the Agency, called “USAID Forward,” which places a premium on evaluation and results.
The key question for Sewell is how well will the QDDR be implemented. He lists several challenges to effective implementation, including:
- support from Congress (“New legislation undoubtedly will be needed. Without congressional support, it will be hard to effect all the reforms called for in both documents.”);
- culture change at State and USAID;
- defining the process for selecting which countries receive U.S. assistance (“So, will the choices be driven by focus areas and need? Or will immediate political issues continue to drive country choice?”);
- budget authority (“But in the real world, there will be strong differences of opinion between State and USAID, and how they are reconciled is never mentioned.”); and
- timeline (“Some can be put in place quickly and many are underway; others will take much longer, and some, presumably, will require new legislation…If everything is a priority, overload will result.”).
Sewell provides a recipe for achieving the impact the QDDR hopes to achieve: “If the QDDR is to succeed it must have strong administration support, a congressional group (preferably bipartisan) to craft needed legislation, and strong support from civil society organizations and business.”
What do you think of his analysis?
To read the entire piece, click here.
Below are excerpts from MFAN Partners’ statements in reaction to USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s extraordinary speech last week. Stay tuned for coverage of the Republican Study Group’s call for severe cuts to USAID’s budget.
Connie Veillette, MFAN Principal and director of the Center for Global Development’s Rethinking US Foreign Assistance initiative, responded, “Yesterday, CGD was honored to host USAID administrator Raj Shah for a major speech outlining what he and USAID have accomplished over the past year and plans in the works for further changes to the business model. He ambitiously seeks to transform the way USAID operates by injecting an entrepreneurial business model within the agency. Shah’s general approach and specific proposals need to be supported, even while recognizing the challenges.”
MFAN Principal and executive director of the US Global Leadership Coalition Liz Schrayer stated, “The USGLC commends Dr. Shah’s actions yesterday calling for aggressive reform in how U.S. development efforts are implemented. USAID programming must be effective, accountable, and transparent, and Shah has outlined steps to ensure that our development dollars are having their intended impact. We are pleased this reform is not just talk but is already under way, as demonstrated through the new Foreign Assistance Dashboard and innovative monitoring and evaluation policy.”
MFAN Partner Oxfam America’s director of aid effectiveness Greg Adams said, “In a tough budget cycle, the US will be required to make difficult decisions about its investments to create ‘efficient local governments, thriving civil societies, and vibrant private sectors.’ Administrator Shah described for the America public that making smart business decisions means having the best people with the best information. Protecting these investments will be vital in ensuring that USAID’s workforce remains strengthened and its monitoring and evaluation reforms are carried forward.”
Todd Shelton, senior director of policy at MFAN Partner InterAction, reacted: “While the Administrator noted that more American families donated to Haiti than watched the Super Bowl, he failed to mention that this outpouring of private voluntary contributions was largely provided through U.S. NGOs. InterAction members are instrumental in the relief and recovery efforts in Haiti, in local capacity-building efforts in Pakistan, as well as in important development projects in sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the developing world. We hope to build on our partnerships with USAID in support of the Administrator’s new vision for U.S. global development.”
Also, be sure to check out MFAN Member Sara Messer’s interview with Shah following his speech. Messer is ONE’s policy manager for aid effectiveness.