MFAN Principals Weigh in on U.S. Global Development Council

On Friday, MFAN Principals Noam Unger and John Norris released a policy brief exploring the structure for a U.S. Global Development Council, which President Obama called for in the presidential policy directive on global development released in September 2010. When released, the directive stated that this council would be “comprised of leading members of the philanthropic sector, private sector, academia, and civil society, to provide high-level input relevant to the work of United States Government agencies.” The council would seemingly fulfill the role of coordinating policy and practice across all U.S. actors involved in promoting global development—since the majority resources for foreign assistance no longer come from the U.S. government alone.

Yet, as the authors note, no other information on the makeup of or the timeline for the council has been released. Unger, fellow and policy director of the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution and Norris, executive director of the Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative at the Center for American Progress, lay out recommendations for the council as the administration works to move it from concept to reality. Unger and Norris draw from the experience of past councils and advisory boards, presenting different models, as well as underlying the importance of clarifying a council’s objective. Ultimately, they outline nine core recommendations, summarized below:

  • Creation and Duration—The Global Development Council should be established by an Executive Order and have its first meeting no later than September 22, 2011, the one-year anniversary of the president’s announcement of the council. The council should also be subject to renewal every four years.
  • Mission—The Global Development Council should advise the President on practical steps to promote policy coherence, strengthen coordination between public and private partners, elevate development, and encourage best practices. The council should also play a role in setting broad policy across all U.S. agencies engaged on global development.
  • Reporting—The Global Development Council should provide advice, information, and recommendations to the President through a designated official on the national security staff. The USAID Administrator should also be closely linked to the process.
  • Membership—The Global Development Council’s membership should be bipartisan, comprising internationally recognized leaders from the highest levels of philanthropic foundations, businesses, NGOs, and research institutions. Once the initial members are selected, the board of the council should be charged with managing its own member selection to ensure quality. Ultimately, the total membership should be kept at or below 10 and members should serve no more than two consecutive three-year terms.
  • Meetings—The Global Development Council should meet in person quarterly.
  • Connection to Departments and Agencies—The Global Development Council should have a clearly established channel for requesting information from agencies and for communicating its findings. Its meetings should include consultations with the heads of agencies engaged in development activities and agencies should prepare brief reports on how their activities are aligned with broader development objectives.
  • Support—The Global Development Council should be supported by staff members from USAID and other pertinent agencies.
  • Additional Recommendations—This effort should not conflate with other efforts to consult widely with development policy stakeholders outside the government. The USAID Administrator should also consider where or not to phase out ACVFA when its mandate comes up for renewal in January 2013.

To read the full policy brief, click here. You can direct comments in the section below.

Please note: an earlier version of this post mis-characterized the creation and membership of the council. This post reflects updated information.

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