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Posts Tagged ‘Kerry’

On the Record: Senator Kerry on Foreign Aid Reform

Thursday, January 24th, 2013
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During his time as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator John Kerry (D-MA) became a vocal proponent for effective foreign assistance. As his confirmation hearing to become the next Secretary of State gets underway, we wanted to take a moment to look back on some supportive statements made by Chairman Kerry over the last four years. We hope that Kerry will continue to hold onto his support for foreign assistance and the International Affairs account and look forward to seeing what his leadership may bring for U.S. development efforts.

The following are excerpts from a speech made by Senator Kerry titled “Diplomacy and Development in the 21st Century” delivered at the Brookings Institution on May 21, 2009:

  • “So these realities really do present a brave new world for which we have to dramatically redesign our foreign policy. If we are to meet these challenges, this much is clear: development and diplomacy have to retake their rightful place alongside defense at the heart of American’s foreign policy. And yet today, for all of our past successes, there’s a growing realization that our diplomatic and development capacities are simply not prepared for the task ahead. And when you consider our meager investment in it, it’s easy to understand why.”
  • “We need to clarify the policies and the goals of our foreign assistance. There is no overarching policy for U.S. foreign aid today or for development today.”
  • “Second, we need to bring greater coordination to those aid efforts. We have over 20 agencies implementing a slew of aid programs, often with very diffused and even conflicting goals.”
  • “Third, we must strengthen our professional expertise in capacity and the delivery of aid. The need has never been greater to train and cultivate a generation of highly skilled public servants.”
  • “To attract top talent, we need to promote a results-based culture of accountability in transparency and we need to restore intellectual capacity in policy and strategic planning to ensure that USAID is a place where innovative ideas can take shape and take hold.”
  • “Fourth; we need to streamline outdated laws and heavy bureaucracy in order to untie the hands of workers. The last time the United States Senate authorized the Foreign Assistance Act was the year I arrived in the Senate in 1985. That Bill runs over 400 pages long and is full of confusing directives, reporting requirements, and procedural roadblocks.”
  • “We need to empower country teams to shape programs, to determine needs, and even take calculated risks if they see a real strategic opportunity.”
  • “We need cutting edge programs that push the envelope on ending global poverty and other problems and our development agencies ought to be leading the charge in that effort.”
  • “To that end, we are going to support efforts in legislation to promote the accountability to enhance transparency, to track performance with benchmarks or otherwise, and to distill the lessons that have been learned in a more comprehensive institutionalized way so that it’s not haphazard when you’re recommitting the next error and suddenly someone comes in and you say oh, God, we’ve got to look at what we did.”

 

The following quote is from Chairman Kerry on the release of President Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD-6) in September, 2010:

  • “I am pleased to join with the President in support of a new development vision to address the leading moral, strategic and economic challenges of the 21st century.  The President has outlined a comprehensive development policy based on measurable outcomes, country ownership, sustainable economic growth and multilateralism – a policy that will build capacity in the developing world, not dependence.”

 

The following quote by Chairman Kerry comes from a committee statement on the introduction of the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act, of which Kerry was a lead author:

  • “I believe this legislation will go a long way toward improving our immediate ability to deliver foreign aid in a more accountable, thoughtful and strategic manner. We need cutting edge programs that will push the envelope on ending chronic poverty, combating global climate change, reducing hunger, supporting democracies, and offering alternatives to extremism.” “We need cutting edge programs that will push the envelope on ending chronic poverty, combating global climate change, reducing hunger, supporting democracies, and offering alternatives to extremism.”

 

The following are excerpts from a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report on the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act:

  • “A viable whole-of-government approach demands a lead actor who is able to tap into a wide range of capabilities and expertise, but ultimately has the authority to make final decisions about programs, resources, and implementation objectives. The committee believes a more optimal way to ensure whole-of-government expertise while providing for proper coherence and coordination is to consider a ‘centers of excellence’’ approach, which would house specialized capabilities and resources focused on a discrete set of objectives in a specific institution.”
  • “Streamlining, flexibility and prioritization are essential so that agencies know where to focus resources and efforts. The committee believes that streamlining procurement rules, earmarks and restrictions is equally important in order to allow greater discretion and authority for civilian agency leaders.”
  • “Country teams should have a much greater role in determining programmatic and funding priorities in partnership with local actors.”
  • “Development requires better coherence, stronger inter-agency coordination and improved rationalization to determine which agencies will undertake different foreign aid programs. The U.S. needs to provide a unified development voice to demonstrate our commitment to development issues, fighting poverty and hunger and engaging with the world.”
  • “…It is increasingly important that we have the means to evaluate and measure cases of development successes and failures, and to better understand what programs work, which do not, and what are the conditions that determine effectiveness.”
  • “Finding a way to better integrate evaluation with innovation and program design would improve the effectiveness, impact, scope and creativity of our development efforts.”
  • “In order to best achieve foreign assistance objectives, maximize the resources of the United States Government, ensure programming coherence, avoid duplication and fragmentation, and enhance an effective whole-of-government approach, direct responsibility for coordinating all development and humanitarian efforts of the United States Government in a country shall reside with the USAID mission director, under the overall direction of the chief of mission.”
  • “The committee strongly feels that U.S. citizens and recipients of U.S. foreign assistance should, to the maximum extent practicable, have full access to information on U.S. foreign assistance and development programs.”

Devex Profiles SFRC’s Steve Feldstein

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
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Steve FeldsteinContinuing coverage of the 40 Under 40 Development Leaders in DC list, Devex featured Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer Steve Feldstein. The profile acknowledges Feldstein’s contribution to the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 (S.1524)—the reform bill aimed at strengthening USAID—that was sponsored by Chairman Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Lugar (R-IN), as well as his recent work on Haiti reconstruction.  Check out the full article here.

CQ Article Reports on the Future of Foreign Aid Reform

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
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In an article out today, CQ reporter Emily Cadei writes about the fading opportunity for an overhaul of US foreign assistance given the Republican takeover of the House in Congress. Cadei notes that legislative efforts – particularly House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman’s Foreign Assistance Act rewrite – will face the most resistance from Republicans looking to use the fragmented system as a means to cut foreign aid funding altogether. Two MFAN members, Sarah Jane Staats of the Center for Global Development, and Greg Adams of Oxfam America were quoted in the piece. See key excerpts after the jump:

At the request of the Obama administration, Berman held off trying to move a bill while the White House and State Department conducted their own development policy reviews. The former was concluded in September, while State’s review still awaits release. Berman’s plan was to introduce a bill next year.

“Berman was very patient,” said Sarah Jane Staats, director of policy outreach at the Center for Global Development, which largely supported the chairman’s legislation. “Now we see maybe too patient.”

However, supporters of a foreign aid overhaul in the development community remain hopeful that with the completion of the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review in the coming weeks, the administration will step up its engagement with Capitol Hill.

Staats said the shift in control of the House could force the White House to be more proactive. It “will require the White House to work much more closely and negotiate . . . if they want to move forward on development,” she said.

Gregory Adams, director of aid effectiveness for Oxfam America, said Congress can respond to the administration’s new proposals — outlined in the president’s policy directive on development and the forthcoming quadrennial review — in fiscal 2012 appropriations.

CGD Takes on Aid to Pakistan

Monday, October 25th, 2010
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In two recent posts on MFAN Partner the Center for Global Development’s (CGD) blog, Rethinking US Foreign Assistance, CGD experts take on US aid in flood-raged Pakistan.  Molly Kinder, senior policy analyst, takes a closer look at a recent study from Jishnu Das (World Bank) and Tahir Andrabi (Pomona College) that finds “trust in foreigners is malleable,” especially in response to a humanitarian crisis.  This report specifically analyzed a four-year period following the northern Pakistan earthquake in 2005. It’s interesting to note that the authors acknowledge that winning hearts and minds is a priority of US foreign policy, and that aid is “a vehicle towards this end.”

Kinder disagrees with the findings of the report for two major reasons: 1) Conditions in Pakistan are worse presently than they were five years ago and 2) trust in foreigners does not necessarily translate to trust in US policy. See below for key excerpts:

“While these findings are powerful, the weakness in the authors’ conclusion is that trusting Western people is not the same as trusting U.S. policy and motives. A villager closest to the earthquake fault line may trust an American or Western relief worker who comes to his or her village, for instance, but may still vehemently object to U.S. drone strikes and oppose military action in the FATA region. Yet the survey questions did not ask whether the villagers trusted American policy – an omission that significantly limits the policy implications of the study. Das and Andrabi’s primary policy implication is that exposure to people matter more for attitudes toward people than does broader policy.”

“Today, Pakistanis are far more mistrustful of U.S. motives for giving aid.  Consider, for instance, these quite typical newspaper headlines in Pakistan: “U.S. pilots fly Pakistan flood aid to win hearts and minds,” reported the Dawn newspaper on August 10th.  “$224 million pledged to win ‘hearts, minds” said the Nation’s headline on August 24th.   Rarely is U.S. aid mentioned in a newspaper article without the term “hearts and minds” right alongside it.  On this point, I wholeheartedly agree with the study’s authors: the more the United States seeks out a public relations boost from its aid, the less likely it is that this will materialize In this context, the “first with the most” posturing of U.S. officials may in fact be counterproductive: the more the United States tries to take credit for their aid and aims to improve its image, the less genuine their motivation will be perceived.”

(more…)

SFRC Chairman Kerry Ready to Enact Reforms in New Development Policy

Friday, September 24th, 2010
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John Kerry with Barack Obama c WHSenate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry (D-MA) yesterday released a press release expressing his enthusiasm for President Obama’s new development policy, calling it “a comprehensive development policy based on measurable outcomes, country ownership, sustainable economic growth and multilateralism – a policy that will build capacity in the developing world, not dependence.”

Kerry also highlighted the policy’s inclusion of several principles laid out in the Kerry-Lugar aid reform bill from this Congress, S.1524, which passed out of Committee last fall.

“I look forward to working with the Administration, as well as my colleagues in the House of Representatives and Senate, to enact these new reforms into law,” he stated.

Read the entire press release below.

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

WASHINGTON, DC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 23, 2010

CONTACT: SFRC Press Office, 202-224-3468

Chairman Kerry Congratulates The President On Elevating Global Development And Foreign Aid Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) released the following statement endorsing the goals for global development and foreign aid reform described in President Obama’s speeches yesterday and today at the United Nations:

“I am pleased to join with the President in support of a new development vision to address the leading moral, strategic and economic challenges of the 21st century.  The President has outlined a comprehensive development policy based on measurable outcomes, country ownership, sustainable economic growth and multilateralism – a policy that will build capacity in the developing world, not dependence.

”I am heartened that the President’s call for a bold and transformational development policy includes many of the main principles of the Kerry-Lugar Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act, which strengthens the capacity, accountability and effectiveness of our foreign aid programs.  I look forward to working with the Administration, as well as my colleagues in the House of Representatives and Senate, to enact these new reforms into law.”

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