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MFAN and Plan Host U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Birx to Discuss PEPFAR’s Sustainability Agenda

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016
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WASHINGTON, January 20, 2016 – On Thursday, January 21st, MFAN and Plan International USA will host U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator & Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy Ambassador Deborah Birx for a keynote address, followed by a panel of development experts for a discussion of The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief’s (PEPFAR) Sustainability Agenda.

The event will be held from 2:00 – 3:30 in The Holeman Lounge at the National Press Club (529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor). Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children and MFAN Co-Chair, will introduce Ambassador Birx, and Dr. Jeffrey Sturchio, President and CEO of Rabin Martin, will moderate the panel.

Panelists include:

  • Janis Timberlake, Director of Sustainability and Development, Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator
  • Tessie San Martin, President & CEO, Plan International USA
  • Amanda Glassman, Vice President for Programs and Director of Global Health Policy, Center for Global Development
  • Jennifer Kates, Director of Global Health & HIV Policy, Kaiser Family Foundation

PEPFAR, the U.S. government initiative to help save the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS around the world, is the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease internationally. PEPFAR is driven by a shared responsibility among donor and partner nations to make smart investments to save lives.

The program is now in Phase 3 (2013-present) and is focused on transparency and accountability for impact, as well as accelerating core interventions for sustainable epidemic control. PEPFAR is investing resources strategically and geographically to reach populations at greatest risk with evidence-based programs. PEPFAR’s Sustainability Action Agenda, launched in 2015 as part of Phase 3, recognizes that many countries are in a position to take on greater responsibilities for increased financing, management, and implementation of key lifesaving programs.

MFAN and Plan believe that accountability and local ownership are vital prerequisites to enable leaders and citizens in developing countries to take responsibility for their own development. We have been pleased to see PEPFAR prioritize the Sustainability Action Agenda as part of Phase 3, recognizing that many countries are now in a position to assume greater responsibility of financing, managing, and implementing programs to combat HIV/AIDS.

At Thursday’s discussion, we will welcome experts from leading international development organizations and PEPFAR representatives to discuss PEPFAR’s shift toward sustainability, how this connects to country transitions, and what lessons have been learned.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Please RSVP to Jill MacArthur,


Ambassador-at-Large, Deborah L. Birx, M.D., is the Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy. Ambassador Birx is a world-renowned medical expert and leader in the field of HIV/AIDS. Her three-decade-long career has focused on HIV/AIDS immunology, vaccine research, and global health. As the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Birx oversees the implementation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest commitment by any nation to combat a single disease in history, as well as all U.S. Government engagement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Serving as the U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, she aligns the U.S. Government’s diplomacy with foreign assistance programs that address global health challenges and accelerate progress toward: achieving an AIDS-free generation; ending preventable child and maternal deaths; and preventing, detecting, and responding to infectious disease threats.

About MFAN

The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) is a reform coalition composed of international development and foreign policy practitioners, policy advocates and experts. MFAN was created to build upon the bipartisan consensus that has emerged over the last decade that the U.S. should play a leadership role in achieving economic growth and reducing poverty and suffering around the world, and that we can play this role more effectively, efficiently, and transparently.

MFAN is dedicated to working with the Administration, Congress, and the development community to advance a reform agenda that will make U.S. development assistance and policy work harder for the American people and for people in developing countries. We believe that successful reforms will maximize the impact of our assistance, and will help to ensure support in the future among policymakers and the American people for the resources necessary to maintain development as a pillar of U.S. engagement.

For more information, please visit:

About Plan International USA
Plan International USA, part of the Plan International Federation, is a child-centered development organization that believes in the promise and potential of children. For more than 75 years in over 50 developing countries, Plan has been breaking the cycle of child poverty.  Everything Plan does  – from strengthening health care systems to improving the quality of education, to advocating for increased protection and beyond – is built with, and owned by, the community. The result is a development approach designed to improve the lives of the youngest members of the community for the longest period of time.

For more information, please visit

Year in Review: A Look Back at Aid Reform in 2015

Friday, December 18th, 2015
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As 2015 comes to a close and we head into the final year of the Obama Administration, we want to take some time to reflect on all that we as a network have accomplished these last twelve months to move the needle on U.S. aid reform. With your energy and support, we continued to push on our pillar issues of accountability and country ownership and the policy priorities we laid out in these areas in our paper, The Way Forward: A Reform Agenda for 2014 and Beyond.

MFAN’s Continued Work to Strengthen Accountability & Country Ownership

MFAN hit the ground running in 2015 on accountability and country ownership. MFAN partner Save the Children released a new report early in the year tracking USAID’s Local Solutions initiative in six countries. MFAN and Brookings hosted an event to highlight the findings of a new policy paper from the MCC, Principles into Practice: Transparency. Continuing on the transparency and data use track, MFAN in partnership with AidData, the State Department, and USAID hosted Do More With Data: Moving U.S. Government Aid Transparency Forward, an event that brought together internal and external drivers of USG foreign aid transparency to explore ongoing and new efforts to make data more accessible.

This year we welcomed Dr. Patricia Morris to the MFAN Executive Committee. Pat took over as the new President of Women Thrive Worldwide, a longtime MFAN partner, in January. We also welcomed a new staff member in 2015, as Stephanie Cappa joined the MFAN hub as our Senior Government Relations Manager.

Heading into the Spring, MFAN and Devex launched Reform for Results, an online series to engage the broader development community on progress made and emerging opportunities on MFAN’s policy priorities from The Way Forward. The series featured a video interview with U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Deborah Birx, OpEds from MFAN Co-Chairs George Ingram, Carolyn Miles, and Connie Veillette, Honorary Co-Chair Senator Richard Lugar (Ret.), and Executive Committee members Ben Leo, Tom Hart, and Tessie San Martin.

MFAN’s Country Ownership Working Group released a policy brief outlining recommendations for how to better measure country ownership, which, for example, can be applied to USAID’s Local Solutions initiative. The paper was met with enthusiasm by USAID, as they are currently working on developing and integrating new metrics into their ownership work. The Country Ownership Working Group also welcomed Save the Children’s Nora O’Connell and Oxfam’s Greg Adams as its new co-chairs in 2015, following on the great leadership of Tessie San Martin of Plan and Rodney Bent.

In July, MFAN launched its new ACCOUNTdown to 2017 campaign to track progress made toward strengthening the accountability and country ownership of U.S. foreign aid. The campaign will take stock of where Congress and the Administration are in meeting their reform commitments and outline further steps that can be made before the end of the 114th Congress and the Obama Administration. Also in July, coinciding with the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, MFAN released its Principles of Public Sector Domestic Resources Mobilization, outlining how the U.S. government can effectively help partner countries mobilize domestic resources for development.

As part of our continuing work to highlight MFAN’s policy priorities and engage with the Obama Administration, the Co-Chairs sent letters to OMB Director Shaun Donovan, outlining our priorities and how the Administration can make progress on them in its final year, and MCC CEO Dana Hyde, outlining our recommendations for the MCC’s forthcoming five-year strategic plan. In addition, MFAN Honorary Co-Chair The Honorable Jim Kolbe testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the value of the MCC.

The Obama Administration’s Second-to-last Year

Early in the year, President Obama demonstrated his enduring commitment to development and effective foreign assistance in his State of the Union address and, following shortly after, his FY16 budget request. In the State of the Union address, the President called for a “more effective global effort” to combat development challenges like the Ebola crisis. The budget request included a number of provisions to help advance reform, including additional flexibility for food aid, a funding boost for the MCC, and an increase in USAID’s Operating Expenses budget.

Also early this year, USAID Administrator Raj Shah stepped down from his post after leading the agency for five productive years. Administrator Shah was a long-time champion for effective development, spearheading efforts such as USAID Forward, the Local Solutions initiative, and the establishment of USAID’s evaluation policy. In April, we released an MFAN-led community sign-on letter calling for a new USAID Administrator. Just two weeks later the announcement was made that MFAN co-founder Gayle Smith was nominated.  As the community anxiously awaited Gayle’s confirmation, MFAN organized another community sign-on letter in June to urge the Senate to confirm her as USAID Administrator.

At the end of April, the much anticipated second Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review was released. We were pleased to see the document focus on transparent and accountable governance and the better use and analysis of data, and the emphasis on building internal capacity at State and USAID in the area of monitoring and evaluation. We look forward to continuing to work with the State Department on the implementation of this QDDR in the New Year.

This fall marked the much-anticipated launch of the Sustainable Development Goals at the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly. President Obama strongly endorsed the ambitious in his address during UNGA.

Foreign Aid Reform on Capitol Hill

The year was also an active time in the fight to make U.S. foreign assistance more effective in Congress. This spring the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a landmark hearing on food aid reform, convened by SFRC Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) and Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD).  The hearing was an opportunity to highlight the importance of legislative efforts like the Food for Peace Reform Act, introduced by Senate champions Bob Corker and Chris Coons (D-DE) earlier in the year, and to make the case for why the current systems to needs to be improved in order to deliver more for hungry people around the world. To capitalize on the moment, MFAN, as part of a broad coalition of international development organizations, signed on to a statement of support for food aid reform.

In October, the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015 was introduced in the House by Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA), and in the Senate by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). Just a few weeks after introduction, the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee took up and approved the bills. MFAN and InterAction also organized a community sign-on letter in support of the bill and the MFAN Co-Chairs sent a letter to Secretary Kerry urging his support, recognizing that the State Department has been a hurdle to getting the bill passed in previous congresses.

Meanwhile, the Senate confirmed Gayle Smith as the new USAID Administrator in November, seven months after being nominated. MFAN and our partners were pleased that the Senate finally took action to fill this important position.

Onward to 2016

We are rounding out 2015 on a high note, as the House of Representatives recently unanimously passed the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act. In the New Year, we hope to see the Senate take similar action so that we can see this legislation enacted. We look forward to a busy 2016 as MFAN and our partners continue to push Congress and the Administration to prioritize accountability and country ownership to make U.S. foreign assistance more effective and sustainable. Early next year we will be holding our next public check-in on our ACCOUNTdown to 2017 campaign and will continue to update our ACCOUNTdown Dialogue Series, so stay tuned!


MFAN Applauds Long-Awaited Confirmation of Gayle Smith as USAID Administrator

Monday, November 30th, 2015
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November 30, 2015

WASHINGTON – Seven months since her nomination by President Obama and nearly one year since the announcement that Administrator Rajiv Shah was stepping down, MFAN is pleased to see the Senate take action today to confirm Gayle Smith as USAID Administrator. Having a permanent USAID Administrator in place for the final 14 months of the Obama Administration is vital to sustaining strong U.S. leadership on development programs that are essential to our national interests and an expression of our core values.

“At a time when we are responding to major crises in places like Syria and Yemen, having a confirmed USAID Administrator could not be more urgent. While it has been disappointing that this nomination was held up for this long, putting those in need at risk, we are excited to now be moving ahead with such a strong leader,” said Carolyn Miles, MFAN Co-Chair and President and CEO of Save the Children.

Gayle Smith is a strong and experienced leader and, as a Co-Founder of MFAN, has long been a champion of the aid effectiveness agenda while ensuring development is an equal pillar of U.S. foreign policy.

“We know that Gayle is eager to hit the ground running and we look forward to working closely with her to continue to strengthen the capacity of USAID to deliver results,” said George Ingram MFAN Co-Chair and Senior Fellow at Brookings.

“Gayle Smith understands the importance of effective foreign aid and we fully expect her to speed up the momentum around institutionalizing key reforms, such as those included in the USAID Forward agenda and USAID’s Vision for Ending Extreme Poverty,” said Connie Veillette, MFAN Co-Chair and Senior Fellow at The Lugar Center.

Under former Administrator Shah and Acting Administrator Alfonso Lenhardt, USAID has proven the critical role that foreign assistance plays in these challenging times. Now under the leadership of Gayle Smith, the Agency can move towards fulfilling the “long-term commitment to rebuilding USAID as the U.S. Government’s lead development agency and as the world’s premier development agency,” as articulated by the 2010 policy directive on global development.

Letter to OMB Director Donovan on MFAN Priorities

Thursday, November 19th, 2015
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November 17, 2015

Shaun Donovan, Director
Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503

Dear Director Donovan:

On behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN), a reform coalition of international development advocates and practitioners focused on strengthening U.S. development policy and results, we urge you to solidify this Administration’s legacy of improved aid effectiveness.

President Obama’s sweeping Presidential Policy Directive #6 in 2010 declared that the U.S. government would “underscore the importance of country ownership and responsibility” and “pursue development through partnership, not patronage.” To implement this vision, the President vowed to “[work] closely with the Congress to establish a shared vision of the way forward on global development…[by seeking] greater flexibilities, including a reduction in earmarks and the ability to reallocate funding from less to more effective programs, while committing departments and agencies to a much higher standard of accountability for results.”

As you consider Presidential priorities for the final year of this administration, we urge you to renew political leadership for this agenda and further embed aid accountability through: enhanced transparency, monitoring, evaluation, and learning; and country ownership through the increased utilization of local institutions, systems, and resources to achieve local priorities.

In particular, we write to draw your attention to three critical areas where your immediate leadership is needed:

1.Catalyze Local Ownership of Resources, including Domestic Resource Mobilization

Where countries are willing, United States assistance can be transformational: encouraging them to generate more of their own revenue and spend it on development priorities, paving a path toward long-term poverty reduction and self-reliance. Recognizing the catalytic impact of such investment, at the 2015 Financing for Development Conference Treasury Secretary Jack Lew committed the U.S. to doubling support for public sector domestic resource mobilization over the next three years. To ensure the success of this important commitment, President Obama’s FY17 budget request should put the U.S. on a transparent path to fulfill its Addis Tax Initiative commitment to double total support for public sector domestic resource mobilization – in agencies including USAID, Treasury, and PEPFAR – in three years, aligned with MFAN’s principles of public sector domestic resource mobilization and without establishing additional earmarks or directives.

In keeping with the President’s vision, the U.S. government should also better align investment with country priorities by increasing the flexibility of programming funds instead of carving up aid into Washington-driven Congressional directives and Presidential initiatives.

2.Partner with Congress and Fulfill Major Commitments to Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability

In 2011, the Obama Administration committed to reporting to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and subsequently directed through OMB Bulletin No. 12-01 that federal agencies managing or implementing U.S. foreign assistance establish an automated and timely process for publishing foreign aid data to by December 2015. Yet to date, only ten of the more than 22 agencies that manage foreign assistance programs have published any data to, falling far short of meeting the OMB standard that “Data should be published with the level of detail, quality, and speed needed to enhance government development planning and empower citizens to hold their government accountable,” including “detail on where, when, on what, and to what effect (i.e. results) assistance is planned, obligated, and spent.”

We strongly urge you to redouble efforts to meet this commitment and endorse the “Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act” (H.R. 3766/S. 2184) to advance this goal. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation was developed in consultation with multiple foreign assistance agencies and was recently approved unanimously by both the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Enactment of this legislation would advance this administration’s mandate in the OMB bulletin that “The USG should institutionalize a process that facilitates the collection and dissemination of data on international assistance flows across agencies.”

3.Continue to Prioritize Food Aid Reform

Reform of U.S. food assistance that enables greater reach and impact would be a profound legacy of this administration. We urge you to once again make U.S. food aid reform one of your budget and legislative priorities and maintain the high-level leadership that is critical to delivering food assistance more effectively and efficiently in reaching millions of additional vulnerable people worldwide.

We thank you for your consideration of each of these recommendations and look forward to collaborating with you further to maximize the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance.


George Ingram
MFAN Co-Chair
Brookings Institution

Carolyn Miles
MFAN Co-Chair
Save the Children

Connie Veillette
MFAN Co-Chair
The Lugar Center

MFAN Letter to the NSC on the Open Government Partnership U.S. National Action Plan

Friday, October 9th, 2015
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October 2, 2015

Ms. Mary Beth Goodman
Senior Director
National Security Council
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Ms. Goodman:

We at the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network appreciate the open and consultative process led by the White House to gather recommendations for the third Open Government Partnership (OGP) U.S. National Action Plan.  Your leadership has been instrumental in the formation and implementation of the previous two OGP National Action Plans, and we welcome the opportunity to help build on those gains with strong new commitments in the next plan.

We applaud the OGP Steering Committee, of which the U.S. is a part, for its recent adoption of the “Joint Declaration on Open Government for the Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”  We strongly support the integration of the SDGs into the U.S Government OGP National Action Plan and vice versa — leveraging the OGP plans, platform and principles for the achievement not only of Goal 16, but the entire SDG 2030 agenda.

The inclusion of commitments to improve the transparency of U.S. foreign assistance in the previous two plans has helped motivate the progress agencies have made over the past four years.  However, much work remains to be done. In order to fully deliver on prior commitments, a robust new commitment to improving data quality and data use is needed.

We propose that the U.S. government make the following new commitments in the area of foreign assistance transparency.

1.All U.S. agencies administering foreign assistance will publish data at the activity level and on a quarterly basis, in line with the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). By 2017, the data published will represent 100% of U.S. official development assistance (ODA).

This commitment represents full implementation of the International Aid Transparency Initiative, which the U.S. joined in 2011. The 100% figure comes from the implementation schedule presented in December 2012 by the State Department and USAID on behalf of the U.S. Government.[1] Though the previous two National Action Plans called for all agencies administering foreign assistance to publish their aid data to and in line with the international standards, only some data has been published and the quality of the data is generally low.[2]

In order to meet this commitment, each U.S. agency administering foreign assistance should publish a cost management plan that assesses how the agency will collect and publish aid data, what resources the agency will need, and the source of those resources. The U.S. government’s commitment to IATI will only be achieved when responsible agencies have clear plans that identify how they will collect and publish the data. Agency-specific plans should be developed by December 2016 to allow at least one year for implementation. USAID’s publication of such a plan this year demonstrates that this commitment is feasible.[3]

2.The U.S. government will encourage the use of the data it publishes by domestic and international stakeholders. It will develop capacity-building programs within U.S. agencies and with domestic and international stakeholders so the data can be accessed and used for different purposes.

The potential of open data to have a transformative impact on development will not be realized unless the data is used.  Capacity training programs should be developed in the first quarter of 2016 and should continue for the duration of the plan.  During the course of the third National Action Plan, the U.S. government must build on the progress made in opening data by encouraging its uptake and use.  This requires identifying and responding to demand for the data by multiple stakeholders.

The interagency team led by the State Department and USAID responsible for has made some progress over the last two National Action Plans in understanding the information needs of domestic stakeholders like Congress, the academic community, and the public.  Going forward, the attention to data use must expand to include more partner country perspectives.

Partner country governments have a critical need for foreign aid information. Aligning this information with country budget classifications, for example by implementing the IATI budget identifier, will help users bridge the gap between the aid and the domestic budget. It is this more complete picture that can lead to better decision making.  A recent USAID study found that, despite increases in the quantity of data published, the local communities that U.S. foreign assistance serves rarely access or use the data to monitor and give feedback on the development activities of donors and their own governments.[4]  To remedy this, the U.S. should implement capacity building programs within foreign assistance agencies to work with local media and civil society partners as “infomediaries” on innovative ways to effectively communicate U.S. foreign assistance information to local audiences.

We appreciate the effort and attention that will be necessary to realize these commitments, and we look forward to providing assistance and public support to help translate these commitments into outcomes during the course of the third U.S. National Action Plan.

Thank you for your consideration and your leadership in using the Open Government Partnership as a global platform to set a high standard of open and responsive government.  We look forward to your response and continued dialogue.


George Ingram, The Brookings Institution & MFAN Co-Chair

Diana Ohlbaum, Independent Consultant & MFAN Accountability Working Group Co-Chair

Lori Rowley, The Lugar Center & MFAN Accountability Working Group Co-Chair

Didier Trinh, MFAN Executive Director



Oxfam America

Publish What You Fund

Save the Children




[1] IATI Implementation schedule.

[2] 2015 U.S. Aid Transparency Review.

[3] USAID International Aid Transparency Initiative Cost Management Plan, July 2015.  See