blog logo image

Archive for the ‘White House’ Category

President’s Global Development Council: Fine Work But Now What (and When)?

Thursday, April 24th, 2014
Bookmark and Share

See below for a post from Connie Veillette, Senior Fellow for Global Food Security and Aid Effectiveness at The Lugar Center and MFAN Co-Chair.

***

The President’s Global Development Council (GDC) released a much awaited report (Beyond Business as Usual) April 14 calling for a focus on the private sector, innovation, transparency and evidence, climate smart food security, and global leadership. Many of its points coincide with current thinking in development quarters, one of which is the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network’s (MFAN) new policy paper.

The wait for a GDC product has been exceedingly lengthy. The Council was born out of the President’s Policy Directive on Global Development issued way back in 2010. I should note here that many of us hailed the PPD for its emphasis on transparency, country ownership, and even more selectivity and focus in funding choices. One can see many of its principles reflected in U.S. development programs, although not to the level that many of us expected four years hence. From 2010 until GDC members were named in 2012, the development community waited. Once the members were named, a new waiting game began for what the council would do and how it would do it. But two years later, they have issued a fine report.

Now what? The GDC was created to “provide high-level input relevant to the work of United States Government agencies.” The report notes that it “will also explore other areas moving forward.” This is a good thing for a number of reasons.

First, while I agree that the GDC focus areas are important, and some are downright crucial, I would suggest that the Council left out a particularly difficult but nonetheless critical issue, that of country ownership. The vast majority of the development community believes in the value of building local capacity and in engaging governments, business, and civil society in creating and implementing development strategies. However, there is considerable disagreement on how best to do this. There is even disagreement on such an elementary question as what country ownership means. MFAN has formed a working group on this very issue. Our goal is to help inform this dialogue within the administration, Congress, aid implementers, and the public.

Second, time is running out. A GDC goal is to help institutionalize many PPD principals within government agencies. It is quite conceivable that GDC can continue into the next administration, but there are no guarantees. GDC should be operating within the premise that its work is done by the end of 2016. Given the administration’s track record in getting the panel named and up and running, and then the fits and starts of the Council over the last two years, my concerns seem merited.

Third, do we really need another conference? And who is the audience? And will the administration want to lead an effort that would require huge investments in stature, planning, funding, partnerships, etc. in order to have much of an effect on U.S. public opinion? (Are we talking about annual Farm Aid concerts that have raised public awareness of the value of American farmers?) Such an event may be fun for attendees, but better value may be found in working on identifying best practices and helping U.S. agencies implement them. As the report notes…”The Council will place particular emphasis on identifying successful approaches to inclusive and sustainable development and will be open about those approaches that don’t work.” Hallelujah.

5 things the US government is doing to make foreign assistance more effective

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014
Bookmark and Share

See below for a guest post from Jennifer Lentfer, Senior Writer on the Aid Effectiveness Team at Oxfam America. Lentfer highlights the aid effectiveness principles from Oxfam’s newly released third-edition Foreign Aid 101 report.

***

#1 – AFFIRMING AID’S PURPOSE

President Barack Obama issued the US government’s first ever US Global Development Policy in September 2010. The policy clarifies that the primary purpose of US development aid is to pursue broad-based economic growth as the means to fight global poverty.

The US Global Development Policy also offers a clear mandate for country ownership—that is, leadership by citizens and responsible governments in poor countries—is how the US government will support development. The US has been moving in this direction since the George W. Bush administration.

ForeignAID-shareGraphics-quote

#2 – MODERNIZING USAID

USAID Forward is a flagship reform agenda designed to make USAID more transparent, effective, and accountable to US taxpayers and to people overseas.

The issue: USAID Forward addresses outdated procurement policies that perpetuate a cycle of aid dependence, rebuilding staff technical capacity, the reduction of overhead costs associated with contracting by 12–15 percent, the need for rigorous program feedback and evaluation, and finally, the role of innovation, science, and technology throughout USAID’s programs. At the heart of this reform process is acknowledging the leading role that local people and institutions have in transforming their countries.

The results: Since USAID Forward began, USAID has increased the amount of direct support to governments and to citizens and other leaders and problems solvers in host countries by almost 50 percent. In fiscal year 2010, only 9.7 percent of USAID mission funding was awarded directly to host country government agencies, private-sector firms, and local NGOs. In 2013, 14.3 percent of mission funds were awarded directly to these local institutions, which is halfway toward USAID’s goal of 30 percent by fiscal year 2015.

#3 – MAKING US FOREIGN AID MORE TRANSPARENT

The issue: Basic information about where, how much, and for what the US government provides aid has historically been difficult for people to access—both for American taxpayers and for the people in poor countries we are trying to assist. But when the US government shares high-quality, comprehensive, and timely information about our aid investments, it helps:

  • Partners plan better projects;
  • Watchdogs keep an eye on the money; and
  • Citizens both in the US and in partner countries make sure that aid delivers results.

The results: The US government is beginning to disclose basic aid data, as well as make that data more useful to citizens. In 2010, the US unveiled a public website, the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, which provides a view of US aid across agencies and countries. President Obama has mandated publishing machine-readable data on US aid via executive orders and through public, international commitments like the Open Government Partnership. There have also been bipartisan efforts in both houses of Congress to require more transparency from US aid agencies via legislation.

In 2011, the US joined the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), a global agreement by donors to share information about foreign aid in an easy-to-use manner. Since joining IATI, US rankings in the Aid Transparency Index have risen across the board, with the MCC ranking number one in 2013.

ForeignAID-shareGraphics-Martha

#4 – DEVELOPING NEW MODELS OF PROVIDING AID

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is a United States foreign aid agency that is applying a new philosophy towards foreign aid. Introduced by President George W. Bush and established by Congress in 2004, the MCC model requires countries to meet eligibility criteria in three areas: good governance, economic freedom, and investments in people. In return, the MCC provides large, five-year grants (“compacts”) toward development projects that are identified along with representatives from the host country government, private sector, and civil society and that are assessed on the basis of expected economic returns and other technical criteria.

From 2004-2013, the MCC signed compacts with 24 countries and committed over $9.3 billion in aid. Lesotho is an example of a country that took steps to improve economic freedom to become eligible for an MCC partnership by passing a law in 2006 that allowed married women to own property for the first time.

#5 – TACKLING GLOBAL CHALLENGES THROUGH LOCAL INSTITUTIONS

FEED THE FUTURE

The issue: About three-fourths of the world’s poorest people—1.4 billion women, children, and men—live in rural areas, where most of them depend on farming and related activities for their livelihood.

In recent years, increasing food prices around the globe have put pressure on many poor households. In response to these recurring food crises, the Obama administration in 2010 launched the Feed the Future initiative, which aims to help small farmers grow more food and grow their incomes. Feed the Future is designed to deliver aid for agricultural development and food security based on a country’s own assessment of needs and priorities. Feed the Future is also intended to focus on results and leverage US investments in local research and training on farming methods, irrigation, and nutrition for maximum outcomes.

The results: In 2012, almost 9.4 million acres—a land area nearly double that of New Jersey—came under improved cultivation and management practices due to Feed the Future investments, supporting seven million food producers. In Senegal for example, the use of conservation farming techniques resulted in at least a 20 percent increase in yields of maize, millet, and sorghum from 2011 to 2012.

ForeignAID-shareGraphics-Manuel

THE US PRESIDENT’S EMERGENCY PLAN FOR AIDS RELIEF (PEPFAR)

The issue: An estimated 35 million people were living with HIV around the world in 2012. The persistent burden associated with communicable diseases undermines efforts to reduce poverty, prevent hunger, and preserve human potential. Launched in 2003, PEPFAR helps expand access to prevention, care, and treatment by funding programs that are country-owned and country-driven, emphasizing a “whole of government” response to scaling-up proven interventions, which are increasingly financed by partner countries.

The results: PEPFAR has helped contributed to historic declines in AIDS-related deaths and new HIV infections. Going forward, PEPFAR is addressing the continuing challenges of strengthening health systems in developing nations so countries ultimately care for and improve the health of their own people, better protecting the world from global disease outbreaks.

What the 2014 National Security Strategy Ought To Say, But Won’t

Friday, March 14th, 2014
Bookmark and Share

See below for a guest post from Diana Ohlbaum, Nonresident Senior Associate of the Project on Prosperity and Development at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and MFAN Executive Committee Member. Ohlbaum writes about what she’d like to see included in the 2014 National Security Strategy. This original post can be found on CSIS’s blog.

***

President Obama announced last fall that he intends to release a new National Security Strategy (NSS) in early 2014, updating the previous version, published in 2010.  Given that these strategies generally function more as public relations documents than as guiding doctrines, and that 2014 is a high-stakes election year, it may be unreasonable to expect anything risky or bold.  But if the 2014 NSS were to put a clear stamp on U.S. foreign policy and articulate a principled vision of our role in the world, here are a few of the things it ought to say:

#1: Explain why development is important to our national security.

The 3 Ds doctrine – defense, diplomacy and development – has long been de rigeur in Washington’s foreign policy circles.  But the 52-page 2010 National Security Strategydevotes all of 5 paragraphs to sustainable development. There is no clear articulation of why sustainable development is important to U.S. national security and national interests.

The 2010 NSS contains only one sentence that addresses the link between sustainable development and national security, which was then cited in the 2010 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR): “Through an aggressive and affirmative development agenda and commensurate resources, we can strengthen the regional partners we need to help us stop conflict and counter global criminal networks; build a stable, inclusive global economy with new sources of prosperity; advance democracy and human rights; and ultimately position ourselves to better address key global challenges ….”[emphasis added].

This is quite an incredible statement when you think about it.  It is not saying that development will create more markets for U.S. exports or level the playing field for American workers.  It is not saying that development reduces the risk of pandemic disease or the impact of environmental change.  It doesn’t say that good governance, transparency and accountability are effective antidotes to transnational crime or that they reduce the risk of violent conflict.  What it says, in effect is: development creates better partners who will do our bidding for us.  Is that the message we want to send the world about why development is important?

#2: Development assistance is not a lever of American policy and influence.

This is probably the most bitter pill to swallow.  But if we are to help bring about lasting gains, swallow it we must.  The United States has other types of aid – Economic Support Funds and billions of dollars of security assistance — that are designed for political ends.

That doesn’t mean, however, that development assistance should ignore politics: in fact, poor governance, weak institutions, and unaccountable processes may be the largest obstacles to growth.  However, there is a difference between using development assistance to build more inclusive and capable institutions for the benefit of local partners and stakeholders, and using it to achieve short-term foreign policy gains for ourselves.

Development assistance is, plain and simple, an investment in a better, safer world.  And it ought to be designed to achieve maximum development outcomes. We are finally starting to learn the lessons of 50 years of development assistance, such as the importance of data transparency, program monitoring and evaluation, clear strategies with measurable goals, country ownership, use of local systems, and harmonization with other donors.  Let’s not abandon those lessons by attempting to leverage aid for short-term diplomatic gains – which doesn’t usually work, anyway.

#3: Development isn’t only about aid.

It’s high time we started recognizing that aid is only a small drop in the bucket when we talk about resources for development.  Foreign direct investment, remittances, and domestic resources are all larger than official development assistance, and private philanthropy is rapidly growing as well.  CSIS’s Project on Prosperity and Development recently released a report examining the ways that the private sector can engage emerging markets.

This doesn’t mean that aid isn’t important – it just means that our development policy must be broader than an aid policy.  And once we start talking about a broader development policy we find two elephants in the room: trade and tax.

Our agricultural and trade policies were not touched on at all as a part of the 2010 Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development precisely because of their political sensitivity.  But we are probably doing more damage to developing countries through our farm subsidies and trade quotas and tariffs than we are helping through our aid.  Such protectionist policies cause poor countries to lose potential jobs and export revenues, and create significant price distortions on their domestic markets, undermining the value of our assistance.  The new Farm Bill and FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill take some baby steps toward a more enlightened food aid program, and the Administration proposes to expand on these in its FY 2015 budget, but more comprehensive reforms are in order.

Second is the issue of illicit financial flows.  Washington hasn’t quite woken up to the fact that the total volume of aid going in to the developing world pales in comparison to the amounts being siphoned out.  In fact, according to a report by the Africa Progress Panel, chaired by Kofi Annan, Africa loses more each year through illicit outflows than it receives in external aid and foreign direct investment combined. Global Financial Integrity estimates that nearly $1 trillion was drained out of the global “south” in 2011 (the last year for which statistics are available) – roughly 10 times the amount these nations received in official development assistance.

Some of this is due to plain old corruption – bribes, kickbacks and embezzlement, pure and simple.  But the vast majority of this is due to tax evasion – in essence, cheating countries out of their own natural and financial resources.   Developing countries are estimated to lose $120-160 billion each year of potential tax revenue from their own citizens who hide their wealth offshore.  And the United States is directly complicit in that, by allowing the registration of untraceable corporations that are the primary vehicle for money laundering, tax evasion, and hiding the profits of transnational crime.

Addressing this problem is essential not only to enable low and middle income countries to finance their own development, but also as a matter of our own national security.  The same laws and policies that make it easy to move, hide, and use dirty money are used by all types of transnational criminals, including drug lords, terrorists, gun runners, sanctions busters, wildlife poachers, and human traffickers.  Cracking down on illicit flows may be one of the most cost-effective ways we have of advancing development, stability, and human security all at the same time.

Which brings me to:

#4 – Strengthen the linkage between efforts to promote development, human rights, and conflict prevention

It has already been shown that conflict and fragility are some of the greatest challenges to development.  USAID’s excellent new discussion paper on “Ending Extreme Poverty in Fragile Contexts” notes the strong correlation between violent conflict and high rates of extreme poverty, with fragile states expected to be home to nearly half of those living under $1.25 a day by 2015.  Similarly, as USAID’s Strategy on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance points out, “Poverty is underpinned by poor and undemocratic governance, weak and corrupt institutions, and entrenched power dynamics that lead to political and economic exclusion.”

What the 2014 NSS needs to make clear is that the same policies and programs that address corruption, exclusion, and non-accountable governance will help make development more effective and conflict less likely.  We need a much broader conception of what “democracy promotion” really means – as well as a term for it that does not close doors for us around the world – alongside a much stronger capacity to prevent and transform conflicts other than by selling arms, training foreign military forces, or sending in our own troops.

Almost six years ago Gayle Smith, then at the Center for American Progress, authored a marvelous report, “In Search of Sustainable Security,” which was essentially a memo to the future President about what the next National Security Strategy should say.  One of the key points she makes is that “America must recalibrate its foreign policy to rely less on military power and more on other tools that can foster change and enhance our security.”

But in order to do this, we can’t simply cut defense spending, although that’s important.  We need to ramp up our civilian capacities to prevent violent conflict, both through direct prevention – such as diplomacy, dialogue and sanctions – and through structural prevention – which are long-term interventions to transform key socioeconomic and political institutions.

The 2010 NSS and QDDR both talk about strengthening civilian capacity for conflict prevention and transformation, but in practice both USAID and State treat it as something that is way outside the mainstream, unconnected and incidental to their routine work.  The offices that handle these issues are underresourced and underrepresented in the bureaucratic hierarchies, and the work they do is viewed as competing with, and sometimes even at odds with, the priorities of our embassies and missions abroad.  The U.S. Institute of Peace is constantly fighting off attempts to eliminate it entirely.

Conflict prevention ought to be one of the main, if not THE main job of the State Department.  It’s not a special interest or a side-show, it’s what the entire Foreign Service ought to be trained and equipped to do.  Likewise, our efforts at poverty reduction are doomed to failure if USAID does not build its own capacity to help local partners transform power dynamics.  A major investment of time and resources will be required to shift the culture as well as the build the knowledge, skills, tools, and incentives to make the United States as effective at peacemaking as we are at warmaking.  Ultimately, though, that’s the only way that Diplomacy and Development will ever take their rightful place as full partners at the national security table.

FY15 Budget Request Puts Heavy Emphasis on Initiatives

Friday, March 7th, 2014
Bookmark and Share

See below for a guest post from Casey Dunning, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Global Development. Dunning writes about the President’s 2015 budget request. The original post appeared on CGD’s blog.

***

President Obama launched the opening salvo in the FY2015 budget process with his recently released request, and while some of his foreign assistance proposals seem destined to go the way of the cutting room floor, you certainly can’t fault the request for having a specific point of view.

The FY2015 international affairs budget request is edgy (a word I’ve never used to describe a budget request) in what it chooses to prioritize and push for, given basically flat funding. Indeed the $50 billion request is actually 1 percent below enacted FY2014 levels due to a downsized Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. The base International Affairs FY2015 request stands at $44.1 billion with an additional $5.9 billion for the OCO account.

Here are the priorities, highlights, and surprising reversals that stand out the most. There are quite a few, hence the longer post.

  • Power Africa powers up. This is the first budget request since the launch of the Power Africa Initiative last June.  President Obama wastes no time in seeking to advance this signature initiative, both rhetorically and monetarily. The only actual line item at this point is a $77 million USAID allocation for technical assistance, risk mitigation, and regulatory reforms. But the budget request draws on the resources of the MCC (see more on MCC’s budget request here), OPIC, Export-Import Bank, and USTDA – all of which see increased budgets. If the bipartisan support around theElectrify Africa Act is any indication, funding for expanded energy access in Africa stands a good chance of making it into a final FY2015 appropriations bill.
  • OCO decreased in $ and expanded in scope. The OCO request sees a $600 million decrease compared to FY2014 enacted levels. The President’s request also puts forth a big substantive shift by expanding its country scope. In the past, OCO was almost exclusively reserved for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. However, the FY2015 request devotes $1.5 billion for Syria and to support transitions throughout the Middle East and North Africa. This shift away from a singular focus on the “Frontline States” represents a recognition that these three countries can no longer dominate US foreign policy interests.
  • Feed the Future lives on. With its contemporary cohorts dead (Global Health Initiative) or under-resourced (Global Climate Change Initiative), the Feed the Future Initiative stands out in the FY2015 budget request with a $1 billion allocation, roughly 5 percent higher than in FY2013. The multi-year Feed the Future effort is due to wrap up in 2015 (at least for the first phase), and the budget request aims to ensure the initiative finishes strong.
  • Aid for humanitarian efforts in Syria is up; aid for efforts everywhere else down. The FY2015 budget request singles out humanitarian efforts in and around Syria to the tune of $1.1 billion. (And this doesn’t include additional aid for opposition groups and transition funding in Syria).  At the same time, other humanitarian assistance accounts get slashed by over $1.5 billion, with the Migration and Refugee Assistance account getting hit the hardest (a 33 percent cut). Due to large carryover funds, this cut shouldn’t mean a direct hit for humanitarian assistance, but expect some scrambling if any new crises strike.
  • Global Health is no longer a sacred cow. For the first time since 2000, the funding request for global health programs has decreased. This year’s global health request still stands at a mighty $8.1 billion (a full 18 percent of the base budget request). But, this level represents a 4.6 percent drop compared to enacted levels last year.
  • The aid spotlight swings to Afghanistan, leaving Pakistan in the dark. Aid to Afghanistan grew in this year’s budget request as compared to FY2014 appropriations, increasing 4 percent to $1.4 billion. This increase stands in stark contrast to the 44 percent reduction in aid to Pakistan. This near halving comes as a result of the conclusion of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman aid bill and the availability of sizeable carry-over funds. Yet, the reduction sends a worrying signal at a time when the US and Pakistani governments are in the midst of a successful Strategic Dialogue process.
  • USAID operating expenses, ever the unsexy line item, get a needed boost. The FY2015 budget request proposes a 21.4 percent increase to USAID OE after a painful FY2014 cut. OE funds are necessary in providing adequate levels of personnel to implement, manage, and monitor programs around the world while giving USAID the ability to lead Feed the Future, robustly contribute to Power Africa, and institutionalize its USAID Forward reforms.
  • USAID’s Global Development Lab given funding to experiment. Meant to be a legacy of Administrator Raj Shah, the newly founded Global Development Lab is funded at $146.3 million in the budget request. The Lab is born out of a merger of two offices (and their resources): the IDEA office and the Office of Science and Technology. Administrator Shah is due to officially launch the Lab in late March so details are still sparse, but the new entity aligns with the budget request’s emphasis on innovation, technology, and the modernization of development.
  • Multilateral institutions get much-need attention. FY 2015 looks to be a catch-up and consolidation year as funding requests are up slightly for the regional development banks, multilateral debt relief programs, and most of the environmental trust funds. The request also offers the first official announcement of the US pledge to IDA-17 and includes funding for the long-delayed IMF quota reform package, which the administration is separately seeking to move more quickly in an emergency Ukraine assistance package.
  • Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative makes a big splash, and will most certainly drown. This new initiative – clocking in at $56 billion, with half for defense and half for non-defense programs – is a veritable grab bag of funding allocations. Less than $1 billion is meant for international affairs programs, but these allocations are directed to multiple programs including the MCC, GAFSP, the Global Fund, Feed the Future, USAID’s Global Development Lab, maternal and child health, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. While the extra allocations would no doubt be welcome additions to these entities, the chances of this initiative making its way through Congress are slim to none.

The budget request does an admirable job of honing in on key initiatives and programs that President Obama sees as transformative in power and scope. It also includes a scaled-back but important development-related reform – a proposal to make food aid more flexible, allowing this assistance to reach an additional two million people each year. Stay tuned to the Rethink blog for updates on how each of these initiatives fare as the FY2015 appropriations process gets underway on the Hill.

For a detailed breakdown of the FY2015 budget request including specific line-item changes, see USGLC’s excellent analysis here.

The President’s Budget: What to Expect When We’re Expecting

Friday, February 28th, 2014
Bookmark and Share

See below for a guest post from Liz Schrayer, Executive Director of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and MFAN Executive Committee Member. Schrayer writes about her expectations for the President’s 2015 budget request. This original post can be found on USGLC’s blog.

***

On Tuesday the President will unveil the Administration’s FY15 budget and begin yet another round of negotiations with Congress on funding priorities.  The decisions will ultimately have a real impact on the international stage, so here is what’s worth watching once the budget is announced:

  • Cut or Not Cut? The first item to watch is whether or not international affairs programs receives an overall cut, and if so how big will it be? Will it be a small “haircut” or disproportionately cut compared to other non-defense programs? Remember, the Murray-Ryan budget deal brokered last December left little room for increasing discretionary programs for this year — only about $600 million overall.  So no programs are getting much of an increase.  The good news is that Secretary Kerry is a tough negotiator, and the Administration is well aware of the important humanitarian and diplomatic security needs throughout the globe.
  • How Much for War Funding? Over the past three years, some funding for international programs has come from the Overseas Contingency Operations account (OCO) to cover the enormous cost of diplomatic and development efforts in Frontline States and some of the emergency and unanticipated security costs in other hotspots.  These additional funds (upwards of $10.5 billion last year) have been vital sources of funding but have to be absorbed into base funding as we withdraw from two wars.  Unfortunately, some years, the Administration limited their request for OCO resources to only Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq despite consistent Congressional direction to expand the scope of OCO.

While we are strong advocates for increased base funding, we have encouraged the Administration to make a more realistic OCO request and maintain current levels ($6.5 billion) to deal with humanitarian crises in Syria and elsewhere.  So watch if the Administration’s OCO request includes some expansion beyond the Frontline States to deal with these crises.

  • Presidential Initiatives?  Budgets always provide roadmaps of priorities – both programmatic and country.  The Administration has several priority programs – food security, global health, climate change, Power Africa – and it will be interesting to see how the budgets of key agencies are affected.  Here are a few items to watch:
    • Presidential Initiatives – Will the Administration continue to ask for strong funding for key priorities such as Feed the Future, global health, and their most recent effort in Power Africa? How will a re-energized focus on climate change impact the international scene?
    • Given the crises in Syria, Central African Republic, and South Sudan, how will humanitarian crises, peacekeeping and continued security requirements be reflected in the budget?
    • As the U.S. and Europe try to shore up the Ukrainian economy with a rapid aid package, what pressures might that place on other spending?
    • Will the Administration attempt to build on partial gains made recently on reforming U.S. food assistance?
    • How will the budget reflect challenges in places like Egypt, Afghanistan and Pakistan?
  • Continued Commitment on Reform? A signature of this Administration has been to build on the reforms of the Bush era in bringing accountability and transparency to our foreign assistance programs.  Last year the MCC scored highest on the Aid Transparency Index, making the Corporation the most open aid agency in the world.  USAID Forward has led the way with a significant scale-up of its evaluation and learning capacity so we can better understand what impact our programs are making.  Will we see continued investments in operating funds at USAID, State Department and other smart power agencies and what will happen w­­ith new efforts in science, technology and innovation?

There are lots more questions to ask, and we will be up late into the night as soon as all the numbers come out to answer these and other questions about how we see the budget impacting international programs.

The spotlight will quickly shift to Capitol Hill, where Secretary Kerry and other Administration officials will defend the President’s request in hearings and where Chairman Ryan is expected to mark up a competing FY15 budget in March.