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Archive for the ‘USAID’ Category

Wilson Center’s Sewell weighs in on QDDR

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
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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.

MFAN Partners React to Shah’s Speech

Monday, January 24th, 2011
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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.

cgd_logoConnie 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.”

USGLC-300x103MFAN 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.”

OxfamMFAN 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.”

InteractionTodd 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.

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.”


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 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.”


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.”