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MFAN Statement: USAID Administrator’s Tough Speech Heralds New Development Business Model

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
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Raj Shah

MFAN Statement: USAID Administrator’s Tough Speech Heralds New Development Business Model

January 19, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chair David Beckmann:

In an extraordinary and hard-hitting speech today, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Raj Shah laid out the clear progress that is being made in changing the U.S. approach to development and reforming his agency, which has been a target of strong criticism in recent years.  The reform agenda is essential and timely, because helping struggling people build livelihoods and escape poverty has never been more critical to our success in battling extremism, opening new markets for U.S. products, and strengthening America’s allies around the world.

Administrator Shah’s message was unmistakable: America needs to take a more business-like approach to development, and everyone involved in the enterprise must be more focused on results and hold themselves to a higher standard of accountability.  While emphasizing that development “is as critical to our economic prospects and our national security as diplomacy and defense,” he explained that these reforms “are not trying to build an updated version of a traditional aid agency… we are seeking to build something greater: a modern development enterprise.”

He hammered home this message and echoed President Obama’s vision for development with perhaps the most important idea in the speech: that over time, our foreign assistance will create “efficient local governments, thriving civil societies and vibrant private sectors,” thereby making countries more accountable to their citizens while helping them “graduate” from U.S. assistance.  Administrator Shah also helped put the issue in context for the American people, noting that our long-term competiveness and global leadership is contingent on how well we reach and sell products to the world’s fastest growing economies in places like Africa.  Development is a key ingredient to helping these markets stabilize and grow, when used effectively in tandem with diplomacy and trade, among other things.

We were pleased that Administrator Shah did more than simply reiterate a vision in his speech; he actually detailed the steps that USAID will take by:

  • Making sustainable economic growth and empowered local citizens core goals across all USAID development efforts;
  • Moving to save hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years by consolidating staffing, administrative, and program management activities globally;
  • Accelerating negotiations to graduate as many as seven countries from U.S. assistance by 2015;
  • Creating a new evaluation framework that will help USAID make decisions on what programs to continue, while also communicating results to the American people through the new USAID Dashboard;
  • Unveiling a new procurement system that will increase competitiveness; and
  • Establishing a new taskforce to prevent waste, fraud and corruption.

Taken together, these reforms will bring U.S. development efforts firmly into the 21st-century and help strengthen USAID as the effective leader of those efforts.  We urge Administrator Shah to remain laser-focused on this reform agenda, including by reaching out to bipartisan Members of Congress to develop legislation that will enshrine this new development business model in law in order to drive long-term results.

For additional information, please contact Sam Hiersteiner at 202-295-0171 or

CQ Article Quotes MFAN Co-Chairs, Highlights Hill Aid Reform Leadership

Monday, July 19th, 2010
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Howard Bermanart.kerry.lugar.giA CQ article (full text below) published today, which quotes MFAN Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram, gives a rundown of how the leadership of Congressional leaders Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Dick Lugar (R-IN) has helped drive unprecedented progress on foreign assistance reform.  The missing ingredient that could push reform efforts over the top, according to the article?  Presidential leadership.

To join MFAN’s effort to urge President Obama to show leadership on foreign assistance reform and strengthen the U.S. commitment to development, please sign our Open Letter to the President, which has already been endorsed by more than 70 organizations and prominent individuals.

July 19, 2010

Backers Say Time Is Ripe For Foreign Aid Overhaul

By Emily Cadei, CQ Staff

The earthquake that slammed Haiti in January also rocked the U.S. Agency for International Development and its brand-new administrator, Rajiv Shah, who were promptly assigned to head up the civilian U.S. response to the disaster. The experience of the next several months afterward was eye-opening and “helped me shape my agenda for reform for the agency writ large,” Shah said in a speech last month.


MFAN Statement: Leaked White House Development Document Has Strong Reform Elements

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010
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Yesterday,’s Josh Rogin published a draft version of the National Security Council’s Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD-7), which is a landmark review of the strategy and structure behind U.S. development and foreign assistance efforts.  Rogin’s article notes that the ambitious recommendations in the document set off one or possibly multiple rounds of dynamic debate in government about who should have authority over U.S. development efforts.  President Obama is said to be awaiting the final report on PSD-7 from the NSC.  See our review of Rogin’s other reporting on development here.

MFAN released the following statement on the publication of the document:

MFAN Statement: Draft National Security Council Development Vision Includes Strong Reform Elements

May 3, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

The National Security Council (NSC) vision for development that was published in the media today would help to meet President Obama’s campaign pledge to ensure “development is established and endures as a key pillar of U.S. foreign policy,” while making our foreign assistance more effective and accountable.  Enacting the changes recommended in the draft document would allow the U.S. to resume its historic leadership position of providing hope and opportunity for the world’s poorest citizens by strengthening our ability to save lives, empower people to take control of their own destinies, and stabilize communities that are vulnerable to poverty, disease, and extremism.

The most important features of the Presidential Study Directive-7 highlighted in the media report include:

  • Creating and periodically reviewing a National Strategy for Global Development
  • Returning policy, budget, and field authority to USAID
  • Including the USAID Administrator at relevant NSC meetings
  • Convening a Development Policy Committee to coordinate Executive Branch development activities
  • Helping recipient countries assume ownership, responsibility, and accountability on development
  • Bolstering measurement and accountability of U.S. foreign assistance investments and demanding more of both from implementers and recipients
  • Forging a new partnership with Congress on development policy and practice

We believe the document could go further toward ensuring that the discipline of development is strong and distinct, specifically through elaborating in what ways and under what circumstances development and diplomacy need to be integrated and mutually reinforcing versus when development needs to stand alone, and hope the recommendations in the document will be firmly implemented across the U.S. government.  We also urge the Administration to engage with Congressional leaders now to translate this vision into an anticipated update of the antiquated Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.  President Obama’s leadership will be needed on both fronts in order to “reestablish the United States as the global leader on international development.”

MFAN Weighs In: Development Policy Debate Heats Up

Monday, April 26th, 2010
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post identified Patrick Cronin as a member of MFAN, which is incorrect.

Last week, the White House’s National Security Council convened its Deputies Committee, a gathering of high-level representatives from all the major agencies in government, to pave the way for the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD) and the interim findings of the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) to be finalized.  As Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin reported, key issues have stalled action on the reviews.  MFAN Member Paul O’Brien of Oxfam America was quoted on the importance of development:


QDDR Blog Series: MFAN Co-Chair David Beckmann on Poverty

Thursday, March 18th, 2010
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The third installment in MFAN’s QDDR blog series comes from our Co-Chair, Rev. David Beckmann, who is president of the leading anti-poverty advocacy organization Bread for the World.  To see other posts in the series, click on the following names – George Ingram, Noam Unger.


The QDDR and Poverty Reduction

by Rev. David Beckmann

Bread for the World wants a reform of U.S. foreign assistance that will make it more effective in reducing poverty.

The Obama administration has already taken important steps towards reforming foreign assistance.  President Obama and Secretary Clinton have made development and global poverty reduction a higher priority in U.S. foreign policy.  They have achieved increased funding for development assistance and added staffing to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  They have also launched the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative (which thrills us at Bread for the World) and announced a more integrated approach to global health.