Press Room

MFAN and the Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance host event on foreign assistance accountability

February 6, 2024
Seamus Love, MFAN Communications Intern

The current demands on global development and emergency humanitarian aid are very high, stemming from issues such as conflict, climate change, and natural disasters. U.S. global leadership is critical to helping address these needs and build on the progress made in the last two decades to lift people out of poverty. To boost these programs’ impact and their return on investment for U.S. taxpayers, it’s important to ensure they are evidence-based, data-driven, transparent, and locally-led.

On January 24, MFAN partnered with the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance to host a briefing on Capitol Hill to explore these issues around the accountability of foreign assistance. The panel discussion featured: Michele Sumilas (Assistant to the Administrator for the Bureau for Planning, Learning and Resource Management, USAID); Jessica Lieberman (Deputy Managing Director, Planning, Performance, and Systems, Office of Foreign Assistance, U.S. Department of State); Alicia Phillips Mandaville (Vice President, Policy and Evaluation, Millennium Challenge Corporation); Erin Collinson (Director of Policy Outreach, Center for Global Development); Sally Paxton (U.S. Representative, Publish What You Fund); and was moderated by Lori Rowley (MFAN Policy Group Co-Chair).

From left to right: MFAN Executive Director Tod Preston with briefing panelists Lori Rowley (MFAN Working Group Co-Chair), Jessica Lieberman (U.S. Department of State), Alicia Phillips Mandaville (Millennium Challenge Corporation), Sally Paxton (Publish What You Fund), Michele Sumilas (USAID) and Erin Collinson (Center for Global Development)

Following the September relaunch of the Caucus under the leadership of Co-Chairs Reps. Young Kim (R-CA) and Adam Smith (D-WA), this briefing examined the bipartisan effort in both Congress and the Executive Branch to strengthen the accountability and effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance and discussed what remains done to further strengthen transparency, monitoring and evaluation, and learning.

Some key takeaways from the briefing include:

  • Building on the strong foundations of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2016, FATAA has helped spur progress toward greater transparency in U.S. foreign assistance, including the consolidation of foreign aid data platforms managed by the State Department and USAID.
  • U.S. foreign aid agencies (and especially the MCC) have been ahead of the curve when it comes to evidence and evaluation policies relative to many domestic agencies.
  • There is still room for improvement in prioritizing and incentivizing evidence-based learning policies and practices across all foreign aid agencies. For example, agencies should report publicly on policies and practices that elevate the use and generation of evidence – and evaluations should be made available to the public on an easily navigable website (as is done by the MCC).
  • As part of the implementation of the Global Fragility Act of 2019, joint department and agency monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) plans are being institutionalized both in Washington and in the field.

For more information, see also: Aid Effectiveness: Accomplishments to Date and the Unfinished Agenda (modernizeaid.net)

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