MFAN Statement: Aid Reform Community Looks Forward to Full Detail on QDDR

November 18, 2010 (WASHINGTON)This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:

The leaked summary of Secretary Clinton’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) shows positive movement towards a more streamlined, coherent, and coordinated approach to development by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  Taken together with the recent Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD) and internal reforms being led by USAID Administrator Raj Shah, the QDDR is another sign that the Obama Administration is committed to getting better results out of U.S. foreign assistance.  However, the summary leaves some issues unresolved.

The most important positive elements of the summary include:

  • Supporting the PPD: Key principles of reform, which were recently laid out in the PPD, are reiterated in the summary.
  • Elevating and Strengthening USAID: The Agency will assume immediate control of the Feed the Future, the Obama Administration’s economic growth-focused food security initiative.  USAID development professionals, particularly Mission Directors, will be given a leadership role in creating country-specific development strategies that strengthen overall U.S. diplomatic and defense efforts.  USAID’s staffing and capacity will be bolstered at both the headquarters and country level.

The concerns:

  • Durability of Reforms: The summary does not include a strong call for collaboration between the Administration and Congress – key leaders of which have been instrumental in advocating for elevating development, including Representative Howard Berman and Senators John Kerry and Dick Lugar – to turn the suggested reforms into legislation that will have lasting impact.
  • Vagueness: There are still contradictions between the Administration’s goal of making USAID the world’s “premier development agency” and the lines of authority for policy development and budgeting (although progress seems to have been made).  The QDDR focuses only on State and USAID, so the White House still has work to do to clarify how development programs and activities will be managed across the entire government.

We applaud the hard work that has been done by committed professionals at the State Department and USAID on the QDDR thus far.  We look forward to the release of the review’s full findings soon.

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