Proposed Foreign Relations Authorization Bill Would Roll Back Critical Reforms
July 20, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram and Jim Kolbe:
The Fiscal Year 2012 Foreign Relations Authorization Act (H.R. 2583), which is under consideration by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (HCFA) today, advances some useful pieces of the foreign assistance reform agenda, including prioritizing economic growth as a central goal of U.S. engagement with developing countries, fostering greater collaboration with non-government actors on development, streamlining the foreign assistance bureaucracy, and coordinating more effectively with international partners. Concrete steps in these areas would make U.S. foreign assistance more effective, at a time when increasingly complex geopolitical challenges and tight budgets demand that we get as much as possible out of every development dollar we spend.
However, we are concerned that other aspects of the legislation, particularly those having to do with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), would undermine these positive steps and turn back the unprecedented progress that has been made on reform:
- Sec. 402: Cuts to operating expenses would make it impossible for USAID to move forward with comprehensive and long overdue internal reforms, which have already strengthened accountability and innovation at the agency.
- Sec. 411: Stripping USAID of its budgeting capacity by defunding the agency’s Office of Budget and Resource Management would make the agency less accountable for results, not more. The establishment of this office is a key pillar of the USAID Forward initiative and central to making USAID, and the foreign assistance it manages, more effective.
While we appreciate HCFA’s movement towards MFAN’s key goal of passing modern legislation to strengthen the effectiveness and accountability of U.S. development efforts, we urge the Committee not to cut the legs out from under USAID’s unparalleled efforts to reform itself. Without a strong, empowered U.S. development agency, we will have one fewer tool in our foreign policy arsenal for confronting the global challenges of the 21st century.