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Posts Tagged ‘National Strategy for Global Development’

Foreign Assistance Reform — of PSDs, QDDRs, and legislative action: The time is right to speak up and move forward

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
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By Mark Green, Managing Director of the Malaria Policy Center

Ambassador and Congressman (ret.)


In coming weeks, I’ll be writing about why I am part of the growing movement to modernize our foreign assistance framework and to elevate development in our foreign policy strategy. I’m a Republican, and a conservative one at that, and I believe that conservatives should embrace this opportunity for reform.  I’ll try to explain why with these postings.

Why am I writing about this now? Well, for one thing, as I hope to explain, these days of challenge – fiscal, political, security-related and diplomatic – are precisely the right time to address the role development can play in reinforcing American leadership.  For another, the broad outline of the Obama Administration’s approach is beginning to come into focus.  A couple of weeks back, a copy of the Obama Administration’s “Presidential Study Directive on Global Development” (PSD) quietly made its way into public view.  It’s time for those of us who want to make our assistance policies even more effective to speak up.

As to the PSD itself . . . there is no one approach to elevating development that will satisfy all observers –  the blogosphere’s discussion around the PSD makes that clear.  However, it’s also clear that the PSD is an important step forward.

Among other things, it calls for crafting a coherent, government-wide National Strategy for Global Development. In other words, it directs policymakers to consider our development and assistance programs “in toto,” and creates a process for strategic planning and review. Imagine that . . . .planning!

It calls for bringing the USAID Administrator – the head of our nation’s (if not the world’s) premiere development agency — into relevant NSC sessions.  While, of course, that doesn’t guarantee the ascendancy of development principles in crucial foreign policy discussions, it does publicly recognize the importance of development as a matter of foreign policy and national security . . . and reinforces the role and authority of the Administrator.

It calls for emphasizing accountability and results in the evaluation of development initiatives.  Now, every public official talks about accountability when referring to public programs . . . they wouldn’t last long if they didn’t. Still, the emphasis the PSD puts on monitoring and evaluation is striking.

This emphasis includes increased country accountability.  President Obama has made the principle of “country ownership” a central theme in his administration’s message to Africa.  You see it in the documents laying out his Global Health Initiative.  You hear it in his speeches. (“We must start from the simple premise that Africa’s future is up to Africans,” he said in Accra).  The PSD makes it clear that country ownership also means greater responsibility. (“The U.S. will make hard choices . . . [and] prioritize those countries, regions and sectors that allow us to achieve sufficient scale. . . and reallocate resources to those efforts and programs that yield the greatest impact.”)

The word is that the PSD draft we’ve seen has already gone through a few revisions . . . hopefully that doesn’t mean watering down some of its strongest reform principles.  We also know that the State Department will soon be releasing its own development policy review, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). While it’s natural for there to be differences in emphasis, let’s hope that the core remains strong – the elevation of development to a place where it’s “equal to diplomacy and defense” (in the words of the PSD), establishment of a National Strategy for Global Development, and increased accountability of programs and recipients.

Another reason why it’s time to speak out on the importance of foreign assistance reform is that Congress is seeking counseMNM Logol and input from the development community.  A bipartisan coalition of Senators (led by Kerry and Lugar) and House Members (led by Berman and Kirk) has introduced reform proposals that will enable Congress to put its own stamp on the subject.  It will also enable the community and the broader public to weigh in on what policymakers should emphasize and push for.

Again, no one approach to development reform is perfect. However, the fact that both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue are reaching out means that we have an opportunity (and I would argue, an obligation) to respond.

MFAN Partner CGD Responds to PSD Draft

Monday, May 10th, 2010
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Nancy BirdsallThe leaked draft of the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD-7) continues to draw reactions from across the development community.  Today, the Global Post published an op-ed from Center for Global Development President Nancy Birdsall and MFAN member and director of policy outreach at CGD Sarah Jane Staats.  Birdsall and Staats echo much that’s been said about the need for a National Strategy for Global Development, but go beyond in calling for an empowered USAID Administrator.  They argue that giving the Administrator autonomy over development policy, programs, and budgets will make U.S. aid more effective and accountable.  See excerpts below:

“The struggles over who is in charge of what and the resulting delay of the release of the White House’s first ever Presidential Study Directive on U.S. Global Development Policy are having unfortunate consequences for our foreign policy goals — from Pakistan to Haiti to our climate policy — as well as our partners in poor countries and our image abroad.”


MFAN Statement: Raj Shah Vision Speech at USGLC

Friday, May 7th, 2010
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MFAN Statement: Shah Speech Touches on Important Elements of Reform

May 6, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

MFAN congratulates U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah for his visionary speech yesterday to supporters of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.  In the speech, Administrator Shah strongly endorsed elevating development as a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy and empowering it as a distinct discipline that requires unique resources and authority.   Citing the fact that global hunger and extreme poverty have increased in recent years, Administrator Shah issued a call for reform of his Agency and America’s development apparatus overall, in order to drive more tangible results for recipients, implementers, and taxpayers.

He outlined a new agenda for USAID that mirrors this week’s leaked draft of the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD-7):

  • Commit to honoring the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
  • Ensure country ownership and growth through trade, cost-effective and long-term investments, and diplomacy
  • Use science and technology to develop and deliver transformative tools and innovations
  • Insert development expertise into policy debates for conflict areas and frontline states

Administrator Shah also announced that USAID would reconstitute a policy planning bureau and as-yet-undefined budget vehicle, as well as drive procurement reforms and institute a new measurement and evaluation regime this year, which are all positive steps towards making U.S. foreign assistance more effective and accountable.

What was missing, however, was a stronger pledge to work with Congress to pass legislation supporting these much-needed reforms, particularly by rewriting the antiquated Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.  We urge Administrator Shah to work with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA), who is likely to  submit a rewritten bill this year.  We  also strongly encourage Administrator Shah to establish an open and consistent line of communication with Congressional leaders including Chairman Berman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), Ranking Minority Member Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN), among others.

In implementing PSD-7, the Administration also must ensure the Administrator Shah is fully empowered to lead U.S. developments.  We look forward to working with the Obama Administration to reach this goal.

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 Principal Ray Offenheiser: ‘Aid Needs Help’

Monday, May 3rd, 2010
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Ray Offenheiser 1MFAN Principal and President of Oxfam America Ray Offenheiser makes the case for why the Obama Administration needs a National Strategy for Global Development in a new oped in Foreign Policy.  He argues that before the outdated foreign assistance apparatus can be reformed — and in light of operational reforms likely to come out of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) — the President needs to clearly articulate his vision for U.S. global development efforts.  This vision, based on findings from the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD-7) will then serve as an overarching strategy to guide reform efforts.  See excerpts from Offenheiser’s piece below:

“The fact that one-third of the planet — 2 billion people — remains trapped in poverty poses a singular challenge to the interests and values of the United States. Obama agrees, and has framed development as one of the three pillars of U.S. national security, along with defense and diplomacy. But his government is still trying to address this 21st-century challenge with a 20th-century toolkit.”

“By merely tinkering with the existing system without a clear a vision for what U.S. development efforts should achieve, the Obama administration could end up making things worse, not better. Each new plan, legislative proposal, initiative, or objective further confuses the existing system. Together, they represent a failure of leadership and strategy that hobbles U.S. efforts to fight global poverty.”

“The administration needs to step back and deliver a clear articulation of mission and strategy to guide reform — a National Strategy for Global Development. For those of us in the development community, such a strategy should answer a few basic questions. What are the intended outcomes of U.S. global development policy? How do we know we are investing in the right things? How do we know if development assistance efforts are successful? And how can we best help poor countries — and poor people — lead their own development?”

“Obama’s strategic goal should be to support those citizens and governments who are working together to achieve private-sector driven economic growth that is broad-based, equitable, and sustainable. The strategy’s scope should not be limited to foreign aid, but should reflect the impact of other global policies, such as trade and migration, on development outcomes. The strategy should link global development and humanitarian response both to American values and to U.S. national interests. Importantly, it should clarify that it is always in the U.S. interest to adhere to the principles of effective development and humanitarian response and to seek sustainable development outcomes even in those settings where the United States needs to employ development aid for diplomatic or defense purposes.”

Read the full piece here.