MFAN Partner: “What Does the PPD Mean for USAID?”

Connie Veillette, new director of the Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Initiative at the Center for Global Development (CGD), analyzes the commitment to rebuild USAID into “the world’s premier development agency” in light of the new Global Development Policy for CGD’s blog.  She argues that any government agency is only as strong as three conditions, identified as:

  • the human resources to get the job done;
  • the authority to form its own budget and then fight for it through the labyrinthine budget process; and,
  • policy influence and operational control over the programs that form the core of its mission.

Be sure to read Veilette’s full post here exploring the “potholes” that will impact how the new policy gets implemented and see key excerpts below:

“These issues have been points of contention between State and USAID through both the PSD and QDDR processes.  The newly released global development policy represents an attempt by the White House to adjudicate between calls from the development community (and some voices within the administration) for a strong and independent aid agency and arguments from the State Department on the need to more fully integrate diplomacy and development.  I fear that reality will not match the rhetoric in this case, and political dynamics will continue to work against USAID.”

“Pothole No. 3 (also known as the Mother of All Potholes):  Policy influence and operational control. Well, let’s see.  The Bush administration’s signature development program that rewards countries for good performance was put in the specially created Millennium Challenge Corporation.  Another Bush administration program – PEPFAR – was put in the State Department under the direction of a coordinator.  In the Obama administration, aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan is largely directed out of the Holbrooke shop at State, and in the field, USAID mission directors report to State Department foreign assistance coordinators.  In Afghanistan, Pakistan, and several African countries, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is running agriculture programs.  The Feed the Future initiative was developed at the State Department, and it is expected that a global food security coordinator will sit at State.  (While no announcement has been made on whether the State coordinator will have operational control of FTF, isn’t it a tad troubling that anyone would question putting USAID in control of what is fundamentally a development program?)  As for the Global Health Initiative, we still don’t know who is in charge.  USAID will provide “leadership in the formulation of country and sector development strategies, as appropriate.”  (When would it not be appropriate?)  It appears that the scope of USAID’s mission has been, and continues to be, diminishing.”

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