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Posts Tagged ‘senate foreign relations committee’

Noteworthy News – 1.29

Friday, January 29th, 2010
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This weekly posting includes key news stories and opinion pieces related to foreign assistance reform and the larger development community.

News on Haiti:

  • Agreement on Effort to Help Haiti Rebuild (The New York Times, January 26) Concerned about corruption and wobbly Haitian leadership, international donors agreed Monday during a meeting in Montreal on a 10-year rebuilding effort for earthquake-damaged Haiti, one that would create an even better capital city and that the government said would cost $3 billion.  [Clinton]: “Sometimes people have pledging conferences and pledge money, and they don’t have any idea what they’re going to do with it. We actually think it’s a novel idea to do the needs assessment first and then the planning and then the pledging.”
  • Clinton: Critics of US Haiti Relief Misguided (AP, January 26) ”Some of the international press either misunderstood or deliberately misconstrued what was a civilian and military response, both of them necessary in order to be able to deliver aid to the Haitians who desperately needed it,” Clinton told a gathering of State Department employees.
  • MFAN-related: A Better Week for Haiti – And With These Reforms, a Far Better Future (Huffington Post-Charles MacCormack, January 29) Drawing on Save the Children’s recent study Insights from the Field: Haiti, I believe four key reforms are needed to fulfill the promises of the Montreal commitment to rebuild Haiti:  1) Invest in Haitian institutions. Rebuilding infrastructure matters, but promoting human development matters even more. 2) Encourage the private sector’s role in development. 3) Empower one U.S. agency to oversee all development work in Haiti. 4) Increase accountability through transparency.

Other News:

  • Congress weighs in on foreign-aid reform (FP Blog-Josh Rogin, January 29) Senate Foreign Relations Committee leaders John Kerry, D-MA, and Richard Lugar, R-IN, introduced a State Department policy bill for both fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011 today.  “This is the first time in eight years that the Foreign Relations Committee will pass a State Department authorization bill, and we do so at a critical moment,” Kerry said in a statement. “This is precisely the moment when our investment in diplomacy is most needed and this bill provides our diplomatic corps with essential tools, authorities and resources to succeed in the tough jobs we continually require of them.”
  • Audit deems Pakistan aid program a failure (FP Blog-Colum Lynch, January 28) The two year-old development program for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) was designed to help improve living standards in one of Pakistan’s poorest and most politically unstable territories. So far, only $15.5 million has been spent on the initiative.  “It has not achieved the goal of improving the capacity of FATA governmental institutions to govern,” according to the audit, which was produced by the inspector general’s office in Manila, the Philippines. And it “did not increase the capacities of [local] NGOs to promote good governance, although some progress was made.”

Friday Afternoon Special: Congress Carrying the Flag on Reform

Friday, January 29th, 2010
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From Josh Rogin at ForeignPolicy.com:

As officials at the State Department and USAID continue to wrangle over what to do with America’s top development agency, lawmakers are pushing their own ideas for reform. Soon, the State Department could have its first authorization bill since 2002, a policy blueprint that could include significant input from Capitol Hill.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee leaders John Kerry, D-MA, and Richard Lugar, R-IN, introduced a State Department policy bill for both fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011 today. The introduction comes just days before the release of the administration’s fiscal 2011 State Department budget request and in the middle of important foreign operations policy reviews both at State and in the White House.

“This is the first time in eight years that the Foreign Relations Committee will pass a State Department authorization bill, and we do so at a critical moment,” Kerry said in a statement. “This is precisely the moment when our investment in diplomacy is most needed and this bill provides our diplomatic corps with essential tools, authorities and resources to succeed in the tough jobs we continually require of them.”

Here is the text of the bill and a fact sheet put out by the committee.

The question remains whether or not this authorization bill will become the vehicle for the Kerry-Lugar foreign aid reform bill that their committee marked up in November. That legislation has very different ideas of how to structure USAID than what’s expected to come out of the two main reviews related to U.S. development policy, State’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review and the NSC’s Presidential Study Directive on Global Development.

Lugar gave a major speech on the Senate’s ideas about foreign aid reform at last night’s gala event hosted by the Society for International Development, where he emphasized the Senate’s view that development and diplomacy should be distinct and separate.

“Differences of opinion exist with regard to who should be performing development functions and how these activities should be integrated into our broader foreign policy efforts. We have not reached a consensus within our government on who should be doing what, where, when and why,” Lugar said.

“As we debate these issues, we should keep in mind that diplomacy and development are two distinct disciplines. Although diplomacy and development often can be mutually reinforcing, at their core, they have different priorities, resource requirements, and time horizons.”

Lugar’s message was basically directed at State Department officials who have been talking about the “integration” of development and diplomacy, an idea that the development community is resisting. Lugar also said USAID must have control over its own budget and policy formations, both functions that were stripped from the agency during the Bush administration.

State’s Policy Planning chief Anne-Marie Slaughter tried to allay the fears in the development community about the upcoming QDDR in remarks at an event Thursday hosted by the U.N. Development Programme.

“Integrating is not the bad word that many people fear it is. It doesn’t at all mean collapsing development and diplomacy into one another or subsuming one to the other,” she said.

But she would not say whether she supported USAID having the authority to made budget or policy decisions on its own.

Best of 2009: Congressional Hearings on Foreign Assistance Reform

Monday, January 25th, 2010
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The second installment in our “Best of 2009” series features a recounting of key foreign assistance reform-related hearings from the House and Senate over the past year.  MFAN Principals testified before several key committees, offered expert opinions on the structure and vision for foreign assistance reform, and helped shape the debate in Washington on U.S. development policy.  See quotes with links to full testimony from MFAN Principals below:

Senate

“Alleviating Global Hunger:  Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Leadership”

March 24, 2009 – Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Panel I - The Honorable Daniel R. Glickman, the Honorable Catherine A. Bertini, MFAN Co-chair David Beckmann, Robert Paarlberg.

Panel II - Edwin C. Price, Gebisa Ejeta.

“The Obama administration, especially Secretary Clinton, is actively considering what is needed to make our aid programs better coordinated and more effective…But right now, people outside the beltway don’t have a very effective way to urge their senators to show their support for the Committee’s work for foreign assistance reform. We need a bill or resolution they can ask their senators to cosponsor.” (Beckmann)

“USAID in the 21st Century”

April 1, 2009 – Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The Honorable Andrew S. Natsios, MFAN Principal Steve Radelet, MFAN Principal Carol Lancaster.

“For our development policies and programs to contribute to the U.S. smart power agenda, we need to be smarter about who sets our development policies, how they inform the decision-making process and where they sit within the U.S. government.” (Radelet)

“There is more consensus today than ever before among our political leadership, public officials, scholars and policy analysts and the American public that promoting development abroad should be a key element in US foreign policy – along with diplomacy and defense.” (Lancaster)

“The Case for Reform:  Foreign Aid and Development in a New Era”

July 22, 2009 – Senate Foreign Relations Committee

MFAN Principal Peter McPherson, MFAN Co-chair David Beckmann, Jeffrey D. Sachs.

“While foreign assistance is part of overall U.S. foreign policy, development must have a strong voice to articulate how a development strategy strengthens foreign policy goals.” (McPherson)

“When we try to achieve defense and diplomatic goals with the same dollars, aid is usually much less effective in reducing poverty. In my mind, that’s the basic reason we need a strong development agency, with its own capacity to plan and carry out programs. These programs should be coordinated with other foreign policy purposes, but distinct from them.” (Beckmann)

House

“Foreign Assistance Reform:  Rebuilding U.S. Civilian Development and Diplomatic Capacity in the 21st Century”

June 25, 2008 – House Committee on Foreign Affairs

The Honorable Howard L. Berman, MFAN Principal Peter McPherson, MFAN Principal J. Brian Atwood

“Because of these staff cuts, USAID has been forced to move from an implementation to a contracting agency…The existing situation means less coherence in the overall effort, less flexibility and diminished leverage with other private and public donors.” (McPherson)

“Diplomacy and development are mutually reinforcing assets in preventing conflict, but they are distinct missions requiring very different mandates and resources. Unfortunately, these two missions have been pitted against one another as rivals for a limited resource base within the foreign affairs budget (the 150 account).” (Atwood)

“Building a 21st-Century Workforce”

February 25, 2009 – House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations

Thomas Pickering, Prudence Bushnell, MFAN Principal Jim Kunder.

“The Role of Civilian and Military Agencies in the Advancement of America’s Diplomatic and Development Objectives”

March 5, 2009 – House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations

John Hamre, MFAN Principal Nancy Lindborg, Gordon Adams, George E. Moose.

“…we now must turn more effectively to the challenge of “complex development” in countries burdened by a potent combination of deep poverty, insecurity and weak governance. The solution in these environments is not humanitarian in the sense of saving lives, but rather adapts the fundamentals of development practice to the challenges of these complex environments.” (Lindborg)

“Striking the Appropriate Balance:  the Defense Department’s Expanding Role in Foreign Assistance”

March 18, 2009 – House Committee on Foreign Affairs

The Honorable Howard L. Berman, General Michael W. Hagee,  MFAN Principal Nancy Lindborg, MFAN Principal ReubenBrigety, the Honorable Philip L. Christenson.

“We now have a pivotal political moment, with an emerging and welcome bi-partisan consensus in Washington and beyond around the idea of “smart power – the notion that America’s foreign policy is best served when there is a more balanced application and funding of the now familiar “Three Ds” of Diplomacy, Defense, and Development.” (Lindborg)

“Development assistance is not just a moral good or a matter of enlightened self-interest. It is in our vital national interests. There is no greater evidence of this than the military’s increasing involvement in this sphere.”(Brigety)

“U.S. Assistance to Africa:  A Call to Foreign Aid Reform”

April 23, 2009 House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Africa & Global Health

The Honorable Donald M. Payne, Earl Gast, Ousmane Badiane, MFAN Principal Steve Radelet, Meredeth Turshen, Bill O’Keefe.

“We can, and must, do better with our foreign assistance. But we must also bear in mind that foreign assistance alone will not be enough to achieve U.S. foreign policy goals…Getting a bigger bang for our development bucks requires being smarter about our development strategy, legislation and organizational apparatus.” (Radelet)

“Hearing on USAID: Management Challenges and Strategic Objectives”

April 28, 2009 – House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement

Mike Walsh, MFAN Princpal Jim Kunder, MFAN Co-chair George Ingram, Thomas Melito.

“While we perform many important humanitarian and development services around the world, it is notable that there is not a comprehensive model for foreign aid from the United States that addresses, worldwide, our nation’s strategic goals and the needs of the developing world.” (Kunder)

“The trend toward focusing on the results of development projects is a good thing. We should care about whether our developmentdollars are invested in ways that improve peoples’ lives.” (Ingram)

“A Call to Action on Food Security:  the Administration’s Global Strategy”

October 29, 2009 House Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Africa & Global Health

The Honorable Donald M. Payne, Thomas Melito, Helene Gayle, Julie Howard, MFAN Co-chair David Beckmann, Richard Leach.

“The appetite for meaningful reform of our food security efforts – and more broadly our foreign assistance programs – is large right now. But the window of opportunity for enacting reform is small. We must collectively capitalize on this rare moment in history to help poor people around the world.” (Beckmann)

Best of 2009: MFAN in the News

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010
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As part of our “Best of 2009” series, below are of some of the greatest media hits from MFAN and its partners.  The past year saw unprecedented momentum for foreign assistance reform, and MFAN’s members offered keen insight into the nuances of the issue, successfully reaching out to a broad audience and strengthening the development voice in policy discussions.   Keeping development and reform in the news answers Secretary Clinton’s call to make the case to the American taxpayer and prove that development is a “strategic, economic, and moral imperative” tied to advancing American interests at home and abroad.

  • Ray-OffenheiserThe Advisors Obama Is Missing (ForeignPolicy.com-Ray Offenheiser, January) Despite his public commitments to elevate and strengthen U.S. global development efforts — those that alleviate poverty, fight disease, and create opportunity in developing nations while bolstering our security and prosperity at home — as a critical component of his foreign policy, he has yet to name even one senior official to be put in charge of bringing these critical changes to life.
  • Huffington PostThe U.S. Can (and Must) Do a Better Job Fighting Poverty, Disease, and Lack of Opportunity in the Developing World (Huffington Post-David Beckmann and Steve Radelet, March 17)  We support President Obama’s efforts to elevate development because the prosperity, health, and security of Americans are, now more than ever, inextricably linked to prosperity, health, and security of people in the developing world. We are urging foreign assistance reform because the economic and geopolitical realities of today, and the challenges of the future, demand that we use every dollar as effectively as possible to fight poverty and disease, increase prosperity, strengthen weak states, and further other U.S. strategic interests abroad.
  • lg_George-Ingram.jpgReorganization of USAID Is Focus of Senate Bill (CQ, July 29)  “There is clear, bipartisan momentum behind efforts to modernize the U.S. foreign assistance system to meet the diverse geopolitical and economic challenges we face,” George Ingram and David Beckmann, co-chairs of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, an umbrella group seeking a broad reorganization, said in a statement. “While there are many issues to be resolved, we are optimistic about success because both houses of Congress and the Obama Administration are making dynamic progress.”
  • Committees Plan to Take Foreign Assistance Back to the Drawing Board (CQ, August 3)  “Reducing duplication, mandating reporting and accountability, being able to track resource flows, reducing double counting — those are things that I would anticipate that the appropriators would embrace,” said Todd Shelton, senior director for public policy at InterAction, an umbrella group of aid organizations that contributed to the paper. But rewriting the Foreign Assistance Act is the most important step in an overhaul, said Sheila Herrling, senior policy associate at the Center for Global Development.
  • Washington Post logoLeadership Vacancy Raises Fears About USAID’s Future (The Washington Post, August 5) “Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton have said how important development is. Increasingly, it’s a painful contrast between their rhetoric and the reality of having no leadership” at USAID, said Carol Lancaster, interim dean of the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, who served as deputy administrator of the aid agency under President Bill Clinton.  While development groups and experts have welcomed Obama’s boosting of the assistance budget, many are “very, very disappointed” with the lack of progress in reforming the aid system, said Brian Atwood, who headed USAID in the 1990s.
  • Ritu SharmaClinton Puts Spotlight On Women’s Issues (The Washington Post, August 18) Ritu Sharma, president of the anti-poverty group Women Thrive Worldwide, said she already sees the results of Clinton’s efforts in the bureaucracy. When Sharma’s staff recently attended a meeting about a new agricultural aid program, she said, one State Department official joked, “We have to integrate women — or we’re going to be fired.”  Still, Sharma questioned whether the program would succeed in reaching poor women, especially given the weaknesses in U.S. foreign assistance.
  • 20061031_markgreen_2Reform the right should embrace (The Washington Times-Mark Green, August 20) At a time when our national-security and foreign-policy priorities have become increasingly dependent on effective development, our political leaders must act swiftly and put partisan politics aside in order to enact reforms that will make our foreign-aid programs more efficient, more effective and therefore more capable of supporting and advancing our national interests around the globe.
  • NPR logoExperts Concerned by Leaderless USAID (NPR “All Things Considered”-Ray Offenheiser and J. Brian Atwood, August 27) Mr. OFFENHEISER: The State Department has advanced this quadrennial diplomacy and development review under Secretary Clinton that’s ambitious and potentially visionary, but there isn’t a development voice at the table presently, and that’s what we’re all concerned about.  Mr. ATWOOD: It’s a mess. It’s not fair to the taxpayer, but I think more importantly, it’s not fair to the poor of the world that we’re not doing our bit.
  • It’s Time for Foreign Aid Reform (Huffington Post-David Beckmann, August 27) The Obama administration has now made ambitious pledges to increase foreign assistance and modernize the system. This is largely because of an unprecedented consensus around the need to make development a pillar of U.S. foreign policy amid the complex and interconnected challenges we face.
  • Kerry and Lugar Push Obama on USAID (CQ, September 22) In an effort to expedite the process, the senators encouraged the president to appoint someone who has already been vetted by the Senate for another post or is well-known on Capitol Hill. Neither mentioned any names, but the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, a coalition of development advocates, has organized their own unofficial poll on who should lead the agency.
  • Associated Press logoEx-Gates Foundation exec named foreign aid chief (AP, November 10) Given that speculation, and the delay in appointing an administrator, David Beckmann, co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, said the administration needs to move quickly in defining Shah’s responsibilities.  “They’re going to need to give him some clear signals that he has real power,” he said.
  • David-Beckmann-photo-small-2Administration Names Agriculture Official to Run U.S. Aid Agency, Ending Delays (The New York Times, November 11) “This administration has inherited a very weak and fragmented Usaid and aid infrastructure,” said David Beckmann, the president of Bread for the World, a Christian group that advocates for hunger relief. “By getting someone in that position, Mrs. Clinton has taken a step forward.”  Mr. Beckmann called for Mr. Obama to restore the agency’s profile by giving Dr. Shah a seat on the National Security Council, and for Mrs. Clinton to give back its independent budget and policy-making authority, which had been subsumed by the State Department.
  • Politico logoShah meets with Kerry (Politico-Laura Rozen, November 19) “The fact that we have a nominee with huge potential — finally — is a good thing,” O’Brien continued. “But he’s coming late to the conversation. And there’s a real question as to whether he is going to be given the face and authority going forward. The problem isn’t him. The problem is, is development going to be given a real seat at the table.”
  • Bill FristRaj Shah and America’s Development Future (Roll Call-Bill Frist, December 17) Dr. Shah has what is needed to carry on President Bush’s global health legacy and fulfill President Obama’s extraordinary development vision. The Senate should confirm him, and the Obama administration should give him the political support and resources he needs to succeed. Millions of lives will be affected by this choice.

Other notable stories from 2009 include: The Kojo Nnamdi Show with MFAN Principal Sheila Herrling, Center for Global Development, and member Paul O’Brien, Oxfam America; Huffington Post op-ed by MFAN Principal Noam Unger, Brookings Institute; USA Today with quotes by MFAN Principal Carol Lancaster,  Montara Center for International Studies, and member Paul O’Brien; All Africa op-ed by Ray Offenheiser, Oxfam America; Huffington Post op-ed by J. Brian Atwood, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs; and Huffington Post op-ed by Ritu Sharma, Women Thrive Worldwide.

Noteworthy News – 12.21

Monday, December 21st, 2009
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This weekly posting includes key news stories and opinion pieces related to foreign assistance reform and the larger development community.

What we’re reading:

  • Troops, Taliban race to build up local governments (AP, December 21) The Marines and civilian development officials in Khan Neshin are trying to bypass the corruption and inefficiency at higher levels of government by working directly through the district governor, Massoud Balouch, a 27-year-old former pharmacist who sacrificed a comfortable life in the provincial capital to run one of Afghanistan’s impoverished areas.  Without foreign aid to pay salaries, the governor said, his staff “would leave, and I wouldn’t want them to stay because they would fall into corruption.”  Convincing educated and well-trained people to come work in Khan Neshin is only half the battle. Getting them to stay has proven just as difficult.
  • Raj Shah and America’s Development Future (Roll Call-Bill Frist, December 17)  Changes like these are never easy. But we can’t let inertia drag us down at this moment in time ‹ a moment when the future of the world’s so-called bottom billion, and our own American future, hangs in the balance. Dr. Shah has what is needed to carry on President Bush’s global health legacy and fulfill President Obama’s extraordinary development vision. The Senate should confirm him, and the Obama administration should give him the political support and resources he needs to succeed. Millions of lives will be affected by this choice.
  • Climate talks: Clinton promises aid to poor nations – but China may resist (Christian Science Monitor, December 18)  In an effort to clear a major hurdle toward a new climate agreement in Copenhagen, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today that the United States would take part in efforts to pull together long-term financing for developing countries to the tune of $100 billion a year by 2020.  The money would come from a combination of government-to-government aid, as well as from private-sector sources.  The offer is missing details that would give it credibility, according to representatives for ActionAid International, a non-government organization based in Britain that works closely with developing countries on aid and development issues.
  • Exclusive: New details on Obama’s $7.5 billion aid package to Pakistan (FP Blog-Josh Rogin, December 16)  The biggest chunk of the funds, $3.5 billion spread over five years, will go to “high impact, high visibility infrastructure programs,” according to the report, focusing on the energy and agricultural sectors — “programs that Pakistani citizens can see.” Another $2 billion will be directed to “focused humanitarian and social services,” which includes extending the reach of the Pakistani government to areas where extremists now operate. Of that pot, $500 million will be earmarked for immediate post-crisis and humanitarian assistance, with the rest going to improving the quality and access to health and education.  The remaining $2 billion will go to building up the Pakistani government both at the national and local levels. The money will be split between funding actual government entities and improving the security and legal infrastructure overall.
  • Up to 56,000 more contractors likely for Afghanistan, congressional agency says (Washington Post, December 16)  The tally “could increase further if the new [administration] strategy includes a more robust construction and nation building effort,” according to the report, which was released Monday and first disclosed on the Web site Talking Points Memo.  As the Pentagon contracts out activities that previously were carried out by troops in wartime, it has been forced to struggle with new management challenges. “Prior to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, contracting was done on an ad-hoc basis and was not adequately incorporated into the doctrine — or culture — of the military,” according to the CRS report. Today, according to Defense Department officials, “doctrine and strategy are being updated to incorporate the role of contractors in contingency operations.”