MFAN Statement: Visionary New Development Policy Lays the Foundation for More Effective Foreign Aid

September 22, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

The foreign assistance reform movement is celebrating a major victory today.  With his speech laying out a new U.S. approach to development at the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit, President Obama has outlined a future where development endures as a core pillar of U.S. foreign policy, delivering greater results for people in poverty around the world and U.S. taxpayers.  The Obama Administration deserves enormous credit for creating America’s first development policy, which at long last provides a roadmap for more strategic, effective, accountable U.S. foreign assistance.

The committed efforts of MFAN members over the last two years helped shape the new policy, as evidenced by a fact sheet accompanying the launch in which the Administration pledged to:

  • “Elevate development as a central pillar of our national security policy, equal to diplomacy and defense, and build and integrate the capabilities that can advance our interests.”
  • “Establish mechanisms for ensuring coherence of U.S. development policy across the U.S. government” by “[formulating] a U.S. Global Development Strategy for approval by the President every four years…[establishing] an Interagency Policy Committee on Global Development, led by the National Security Staff…[and creating] a U.S. Global Development Council” from the private sector and civil society to “provide high-level input.”
  • Make a “long-term commitment to rebuilding USAID as the U.S. Government’s lead development agency – and the world’s premier development agency” by developing “robust policy, budget, planning, and evaluation capabilities” and giving the agency “leadership in the formulation of country and sector development strategies”;
  • “Underscore the importance of country ownership and responsibility” by “[responding] directly to country priorities”;
  • Emphasize sustainable outcomes, “hold all recipients of U.S. assistance accountable for…results,” and “drive…policy and practice with [disciplined analysis]; and,
  • “Prioritize partnerships” such as leveraging multilateral institutions, the private sector, and nongovernmental institutions.

As with most ambitious policy pronouncements like this, the devil will be in the details of implementation.  We look forward to supporting the Administration as the implementation phase takes shape, and it will be our responsibility to hold policymakers accountable for the groundbreaking commitments made in this new policy.  We will focus on key questions that remain unanswered, including:

  • If U.S. Ambassadors have oversight responsibility for foreign assistance in the field, how can we make sure our development programs work towards long-term, sustainable outcomes and not short-term political goals?
  • More broadly, how will USAID and the State Department work together to implement the new policy?
  • Will the Administration work proactively with Congress to overhaul the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to make sure the new development policy endures as one of President Obama’s key legacies?

For additional information, please contact Sam Hiersteiner at 202-295-0171 or shiersteiner@gpgdc.com.

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