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Posts Tagged ‘International Affairs budget’

MFAN Partner ONE Speaks Out on Aid Reform and the Budget

Friday, February 11th, 2011
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ONEMFAN Principal Larry Nowels, ONE’s U.S. policy director, urged policymakers to think through cuts to the International Affairs budget and the impact such cuts would have on ongoing national security efforts in a recent op-ed in The Hill. Nowels points to the reform effort in the Obama Administration as evidence that U.S. development programs recognize the need to become more efficient and effective and better respond to the challenges, both here and abroad. Read the full piece here and see excerpts below:

“Smartly, some among the Obama foreign assistance team have been scrutinizing their agency budgets for some time and identifying where cuts can be made. In a speech three weeks ago hosted by the Center for Global Development, Raj Shah, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, acknowledged that USAID would need to do “more with less” or at least with a stagnant budget. Administrator Shah previewed some reductions, announcing the graduation from foreign aid of at least seven countries by 2015, the closure of expensive offices in Europe and Tokyo, and administrative savings of $50 million over five years.”

“Now, the RSC is again calling for USAID’s termination, but offers no suggestions on where or who would manage the roughly $18 billion in programs overseen by the agency. And if the assumption is that the State Department or some other government agency would assume this responsibility, rolling their budgets back to 2008 would not exactly prepare for an orderly transition. Who would conduct oversight to ensure the funds are spent as intended and not lost to corruption or mismanagement? And most of all, who would provide the development expertise of experienced USAID staff that are responsible for planning, implementing, and measuring impact of our foreign aid dollars?”

“This month marks the beginning of what is sure to be a difficult and contentious year-long, and perhaps years-long, debate over U.S. spending. Foreign aid should and will be part of that discussion and cuts are certain, whether they come from the Administration or Congress. But my hope is that they will be “smart” cuts that will not minimize the goal of advancing American interests, scale back aid programs that have proven to be effective, or stifle promising new initiatives that will bring greater efficiency, accountability, and impact to that less-than-1% of the budget that is foreign aid.”

Sara Messer, policy manager for aid effectiveness at MFAN Partner ONE, posted a blog today about a significant leap forward for aid transparency and accountability that occurred earlier this week. On Tuesday the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Steering Committee met and agreed upon a new set of standards for publishing aid information—establishing a common language and format. Several MFAN Partners were key to behind-the-scenes work around IATI, including Publish What You Fund whose director Karin Christensen commented, “For the first time, a standard exists which means more aid information will actually be better aid information. And that is what we need to make aid transparent; not only to other governments, and aid agencies, but to the public in all of our countries too.” When everyone can see how much aid is being spent where, and on what, governments – whether giving or receiving aid – can be held accountable by their citizens for spending it well.” Read more of Messer’s recap and the important next steps toward greater accountability here.

Building a Better, Safer World Starting on Capitol Hill

Thursday, February 10th, 2011
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A Guest Post by Mary Deering

Advocacy Program Manager, Truman National Security Project

Two weeks ago representatives from NGO’s, the private sector, and retired military service members convened on Capitol Hill to meet face-to-face with close to two thirds of freshman legislators and their staffs. The day, orchestrated by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, was focused on educating these new lawmakers on the importance of the International Affairs budget to our national security and economic prosperity. At a time when budgets are tight, it is more important than ever that our members of Congress  see how a strong and effective International Affairs budget is a wise investment for the American people.

Broad, bipartisan groups of constituents criss-crossed the Hill, traveling from meeting to meeting throughout the morning to make the case for  a strong and effective International Affairs Budget. We also shared with the new Members that groundbreaking reforms to make foreign assistance programs work more efficiently and effectively are already underway. Thanks to a lot of hard work by, Secretary of State Clinton, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, and Millennium Challenge Corporation CEO Daniel Yohannes  and others, new plans for making programs more transparent and accountable are already in place.

Our message to the members tnspof Congress was simple. Even in tough economic times, a strong and effective International Affairs Budget is worth every dime. Investing in democracy, development, and diplomacy serves our economic interests here at home as well and our national security. As I accompanied Truman National Security Project veteran Lt. General Norm Seip (US Air Force, Retired) and his group to meetings with several new US Senators, the national security and economic arguments for continuing our development work abroad had the most resounding impact. One thing is clear: development is not charity — it is part and parcel of our national security and it has very real impacts on the global economy.

Foreign assistance programs and military strategies both have the ability to build a better, safer world. Our military cannot be everywhere all at once and military efforts are much more costly than foreign assistance efforts in terms of blood and treasure. As Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, “development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.” Conflicts abroad are becoming harder to contain by military action alone as they become transnational and carried out by non-state actors. Thwarting these conflicts with stable, economically viable states, rather than reacting with military intervention once conflict ensues, is critical.

We must seize this opportunity to educate Americans about foreign assistance spending and the crucial role it plays. As budget discussions ramp up, it will become a target. This is especially important at a time when we will rely heavily on development efforts in strategically important states such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. As we transfer from a military to civilian operation in Iraq, maintaining stability in the region will hinge on the success – and the existence – of development programs.

MFAN Principals Comment on Cuts to Foreign Aid

Monday, February 7th, 2011
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Andrea Stone, senior Washington correspondent at AOL News, makes a forceful case to not cut foreign assistance, quoting three MFAN Principals in a new story. She argues that while foreign aid has always been a GOP target, it faces more pressure this year because of the looming deficit and recent crisis in Egypt. MFAN Principals Sam Worthington, president of InterAction, John Norris, executive director of the Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative at the Center for American Progress, and Noam Unger, policy director of the Foreign Assistance Reform project at the Brookings Institution all speak to the important role US foreign assistance plays in laying the foundation for peace and security worldwide. Stone also references this op-ed featuring MFAN Co-Chair Jim Kolbe, MFAN Principal Rob Mosbacher and Mark Green. Read the full article here and see excerpts below:

“If that 1 percent was gone, the only face America would be putting to the world is one of helmets and boots on the ground,” said Sam Worthington, who heads InterAction, a coalition of U.S.-based relief groups that includes CARE and the International Rescue Committee. “It would deeply impact our image in the world and our ability to relate to other peoples.”

Yet before the abuses of the 1950s and ’60s, there was the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild Europe after World War II. As John Norris, who heads the Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative at the Center for American Progress, notes, it was fiercely opposed by Paul’s ideological forbears, who also saw it as a waste of tax dollars.

“It’s always been a popular measure with Congress in that it plays to the bleachers,” Norris said.

Noam Unger, policy director of the Foreign Assistance Reform project at the Brookings Institution, agrees that the foreign aid program should be improved: “When we use foreign aid for rapid response to political crises, we often get it wrong.”

But he said foreign aid “provides the best impact when it is used as a strategic long-term investment in sound governance and the economic well-being of people around the world and when it leverages action by other aid donors and the private sector.”

USGLC Video on the International Affairs Budget

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011
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If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you take a look at the video below from MFAN Partner the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition in which high-ranking officials like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, retired General Michael W. Hagee and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speak to the importance of investing in smart power.