April 20, 2017 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs George Ingram and Connie Veillette.
MFAN is alarmed by reports of White House efforts to overhaul the foreign policy components of the federal government, which would have the potential to completely eliminate agencies and drastically cut the workforce. The plans laid out in last month’s Executive Order on reorganization and the recent memo from the Office of Management and Budget, when coupled with drastic cuts in the President’s “skinny” budget proposal, are cause for major concern.
Any reorganization effort should be based on sound principles, clearly articulated objectives, and a global development strategy – not a rushed timeline and draconian spending cuts. Congress should move quickly to engage the administration in this process. The Legislative Branch plays an important role in ensuring U.S. assistance is effective and our approach to development is not driven by unilateral and arbitrary cuts.
MFAN is further concerned that this reorganization plan has been initiated without a permanent USAID administrator. We learned all too well in 2009 that the absence of Senate-confirmed leadership at the U.S. Government’s lead development agency will diminish USAID’s voice at a pivotal time. MFAN urges the administration to immediately nominate a USAID administrator and Congress to swiftly convene a confirmation hearing.
As a reform coalition that promotes a results-driven and evidence-based approach to development, MFAN supports the goal of maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance. However, the principles, strategy, and personnel necessary to create a coherent reform plan are not in place. Given the large-scale implications of this effort, MFAN calls for Congress and the development community to take an active and ongoing role in any review and reorganization of our foreign assistance programs.