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Archive for the ‘USAID’ Category

Media Spotlight: Reaction to Shah’s Speech

Thursday, January 20th, 2011
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Our partners at Devex posted a comprehensive summary of USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s speech delivered yesterday at an event hosted by MFAN Partner the Center for Global Development. Editor Rolf Rosenkranz provides a thorough overview of Shah’s key messages, particularly around USAID’s new evaluation policy and it’s position towards contractors and implementers. Quoted in the piece is MFAN’s Co-Chair and President of Bread for the World David Beckmann, as well as MFAN Partner Oxfam America. See below for excerpts:

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah on Thursday (Jan. 19) unveiled several new procurement reform initiatives – some of them effective immediately – that are meant to boost the monitoring and evaluation of field projects and more closely scrutinize especially the government’s larger implementing partners.The move is part of the Obama administration’s ongoing quest to win public and congressional support for turning USAID, an agency that has been widely criticized for being overstretched and underfunded, into an innovative enterprise that leverages more investment from partner countries and the private sector than it relies on outside contractors and consultants.

David Beckmann, co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, called Shah’s speech “extraordinary and hard-hitting” and ongoing USAID reforms “essential and timely,” urging the Obama administration to work with policymakers from both parties to draft legislation that will “enshrine this new development business model in law in order to drive long-term results.”

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Shah Introduces the ‘Modern Development Enterprise’

Thursday, January 20th, 2011
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Yesterday, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah delivered a powerful speech on the future of US development efforts, particularly the future of USAID. Shah made an impassioned argument for adopting a more business-like approach to development and asked that the broader community join him in his efforts to reform. Below are excerpts from his speech that capture his overarching message:

Rajiv_Shah“Earlier this year, we instituted a series of reforms we now call USAID Forward. Thanks to those reforms, our agency is fundamentally changing, becoming more efficient, more effective and more businesslike, freeing our talented staff to achieve great results.”

“We’ve embarked on this effort to transform how development is delivered because development is not and cannot be a sideshow. As the president and the secretaries of state, Treasury and defense have all made abundantly clear, development is as critical to our economic prospects and our national security as diplomacy and defense.”

“That’s why our reforms are not simply trying to update the traditional version of an aid agency. Instead, we are seeking to build something greater: a modern development enterprise.”

“Like an enterprise, we’re relentlessly focused on delivering results and learning from success and failure. Remember, USAID used to be the world leader in development evaluation, creating many of the standards that are currently employed throughout the development community. But we’ve fallen far from that world-class distinction.”

“Today, I’m announcing a new evaluation policy that I believe will set a new standard in our field. By aggressively measuring and learning from our results, we will extend the impact of our ideas and of knowledge we helped generate. Every major project will require a performance evaluation conducted by independent third parties, not by the implementing partners themselves. Instead of simply reporting our results like nearly all aid agencies do, we will collect baseline data and employ study designs that explain what would have happened without our interventions so we can know for sure the impact of our programs. And in the spirit of the extreme transparency I promised when I joined USAID, we will release the results of all of our evaluations within three months of their completion, whether they tell a story of success or failure. We’re going to integrate this project evaluation data into our foreignassistance.gov dashboard.”

“Like an enterprise, we’re focused on delivering the highest possible value for our shareholders. In this case, the American people and the congressional leaders who represent them. We will deliver that value by scaling back our footprint to shift resources to critical regions, rationalizing our operations and vigilantly fighting fraud, waste and abuse.”

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A Look Back at USAID’s Major Reforms: Shah Talks to David Lane

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
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In mid-September, USAID Administrator Raj Shah joined MFAN Principal and then President and CEO of ONE David Lane as part of the State Department’s “Conversations with America” series. The discussion, which aired just days before the Millennium Development Goals summit, centered on the development challenges and opportunities facing the US today. Still, Shah used the conversation as an opportunity to list the internal reforms USAID would be undertaking to help reform the overall aid structure.

At one point Shah said, “We have spent a lot of time listening and learning about how we can do this work better, more effectively. And the number one thing we’ve learned is we need to be more capable of supporting country-owned efforts and building real capacity through our investments around the world. So there are three good examples of this. One is in Feed the Future in our Global Health Initiative, frankly, across all the rest of the things we’re doing. We are moving much more towards a model a little bit pioneered by the Millennium Challenge Corporation where we’re saying, “We want to see strong country plans, we want to be supportive of those plans, and we don’t want to do things in parallel in a way that’s not visible to and in partnership with country governments, civil society organizations, private sector organizations.”


A Look Back at USAID’s Major Reforms: Policy, Procurement and Budget Reforms

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
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Earlier, we took a look back at the launch of the US Foreign Assistance Dashboard. Now, in recognition of the significant reforms USAID has already undergone, we turn to more bureaucratic reforms tackled this year. First up is the establishment, or reestablishment, of a Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning at USAID. Announced in early June, this was one of the first major reforms Shah launched. In a statement, MFAN Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram said: “The Bureau will restore the ability of USAID’s world-class development professionals to plan and execute innovative, 21st-century programs that deliver better results for the people we are trying to empower and U.S. taxpayers, while also contributing expert input into important national security and foreign policy debates that have major development components.”

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The Modern Development Enterprise – A Look Back at USAID’s Major Reforms

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
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In advance of USAID Administrator Raj Shah’s major speech tomorrow, hosted by MFAN Partner the Center for Global Development, we’re revisiting some of the agency’s major reforms over the past year. Be sure to check ModernizeAid throughout the coming days for complete coverage of the speech, including MFAN Partner reactions. Also, look for us on Twitter as we live-tweet the speech by following @modernizeaid and retweet often!

One of the most exciting developments was the launch of the US Foreign Assistance Dashboard—the first comprehensive, web-based tool that provides information to policymakers, aid partners, and the public about where U.S. foreign assistance is going and what impact it is having in saving lives and helping vulnerable people build livelihoods.slide_1MFAN Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram said, “It is hard to overstate how important this new tool is to making U.S. foreign assistance more effective.  The Dashboard increases transparency in U.S. foreign assistance in an unprecedented way, and in doing so, it allows policymakers and aid partners to make more informed decisions, while also helping citizens here and abroad hold their leaders accountable for delivering results on development.”

Publish What You Fund, a valuable MFAN Partner, praised the launch of www.foreignassistance.gov and commented, “The most important and exciting thing about the site is that it is the beginning of more and better things to come.  This is the first output of an important interagency aid transparency process working to develop a common framework and publish aid information, documents and data across all of the agencies providing foreign assistance.”

Our friends at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights said, “The work of the RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights with Zanmi Lasante in Haiti over the last eight years has demonstrated that impacted communities tend to be the last to know critical details of planned international interventions.  Communities may not be informed of project plans or how to seek redress for any problems that arise.  The increased transparency from the Dashboard will allow those with internet access to gain important information, but it is necessary that information is made accessible in a variety of ways appropriate to each context, including multiple languages and formats.”

For more responses and reactions to the new foreign assistance dashboard, visit our blog here.