February 1, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:
MFAN strongly supports President Obama’s FY 2011 International Affairs budget blueprint, which reinforces the President’s commitment to ensuring that “development is established and endures as a key pillar of U.S. foreign policy” by requesting increases for foreign assistance programs. Even at this challenging time, we believe robust funding for development is critical, because the complex problems we are trying to solve in Haiti, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere cannot be addressed solely with military firepower or diplomatic outreach. We must continue to focus on alleviating poverty, fighting disease, and creating economic opportunity in the developing world, in order to improve people’s lives and help set them on a path towards self-sufficiency.
The challenging atmosphere surrounding this budget demands that policymakers do everything possible to make U.S. foreign assistance more effective and accountable. Building on the unprecedented momentum created at all levels of government in 2009, we urge the Obama Administration to drive foreign assistance reform to a successful conclusion so that we are getting the best results possible for the people in developing countries we are working with, as well as U.S. taxpayers.
We eagerly await the findings and recommendations from two major Administration reviews – the White House’s Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy (PSD) and the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). We call on the Administration to work closely with Congress on House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Berman’s (D-CA) anticipated rewrite of the outdated Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s bipartisan effort to pass the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 (S.1524), which would strengthen the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under Dr. Rajiv Shah’s leadership and create new transparency and accountability measures for foreign assistance. We stand ready to work with both branches on this important and transformative drive towards reform.