Best of 2009: Congressional Hearings on Foreign Assistance Reform

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:


“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)


“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)

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