MFAN Statement: An Updated Agenda for Foreign Assistance Reform

April 28, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram, and Jim Kolbe:

We are pleased to unveil MFAN’s updated policy agenda for reforming the U.S. approach to global development. Our new guiding document — From Policy to Practice: Maximizing the Impact and Accountability of U.S. Global Development Efforts — builds on the bipartisan principles upon which MFAN was founded three years ago, while acknowledging the fiscal and geopolitical challenges that America faces.

Our nation’s fiscal challenges make reform more important than ever. As part of policymakers’ efforts to reduce the long-term deficit, the less-than-one percent of the federal budget that goes towards alleviating poverty, eradicating disease, and bolstering equitable economic growth in developing countries continues to be threatened with cuts. At the same time, fast-moving and complex global events, including the turmoil in the Middle East, the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and an emerging global food crisis demand that we use all the tools of our foreign policy — defense, diplomacy, and development — to drive outcomes in line with the aspirations of people in developing countries and the U.S. national interest.

Policymakers must prioritize reform so that we can get the most out of the resources we have for development in the short term and create a system that will deliver better results over the long term. In From Policy to Practice we argue that policymakers can take a series of practical and cost-effective steps to reach these goals and build on the historic progress that has already been made on reform:

  • Give reform durability by forging bipartisan agreement on key reforms that can be codified in law.
  • Bolster accountability across our assistance programs by expanding new initiatives like the Foreign Assistance Dashboard (www.foreignassistance.gov), which allows people to access clear information about funding and results, to include all federal agencies’ foreign assistance programs.
  • Increase local ownership of, and responsibility for, assistance programs by making sure decisions on development spending are driven by developing-country priorities and realities, rather than just a Washington perspective.
  • Ensure assistance is more strategic by better defining the differences between development-focused efforts and national security-focused efforts, and making changes to the way we plan, fund, and execute programs as a result.
  • Make U.S. food assistance programs more effective by eliminating restrictions that impede efficient procurement and delivery.
  • Utilize administrative and legislative tools to fully implement USAID’s internal reforms.

Taking these steps on reform will not only strengthen our hand in dealing with challenges both near and far, it will help protect the historic development gains that the U.S. has driven over the last decade and accelerate further progress in the future. We urge policymakers to take action now.

About MFAN

MFAN is a reform coalition comprised of international development and foreign policy practitioners, policy advocates and experts, concerned citizens, and private sector organizations. MFAN was created to build upon the bipartisan consensus that has emerged over the last decade that the U.S. should play a leadership role in achieving economic growth and reducing poverty and suffering around the world, and that we can play this role more effectively, efficiently, and transparently. In 2011-12, MFAN will monitor and encourage the Administration’s development policy reform agenda and support action in Congress to achieve bipartisan agreement and legislation in support of reform. For more information on foreign assistance reform, and to read our proposal, visit http://modernizeaid.net/

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

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