May 1, 2017 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs George Ingram and Connie Veillette.
The leaked details of the Trump Administration’s budget proposal appear to confirm plans to slash diplomacy and development funding, putting our security at home and U.S. leadership abroad at risk. MFAN remains deeply concerned about the devastating effects these arbitrary cuts would have on U.S. global engagement and the recent bipartisan progress on aid effectiveness.
The leaked budget proposes a 44% cut to USAID’s Policy, Planning and Learning Bureau, which houses the agency’s accountability functions, including transparency and evaluation. USAID has significantly increased the number of evaluations it conducts, and a recent study found that more than 90% of these evaluations are being used to shape policies and inform projects. Such a major funding reduction would jeopardize these accountability and learning measures, which were overwhelmingly enacted into law by the bipartisan Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2016. Reducing the policy capacity of USAID diminishes the impact of our foreign assistance and weakens the mechanisms that ensure proper stewardship of American taxpayer dollars. MFAN is pleased to see funding maintained for the ForeignAssistance.gov website, but without the requisite policy functions at USAID, our aid will be less effective.
In addition, this proposal would cripple the Development Assistance account, which saves lives, improves health, and strengthens institutions in developing countries. For example, enormous cuts are proposed for both West African nations still recovering from the Ebola epidemic and Central American countries where violence and poverty are causing mass migration. To discontinue these programs is shortsighted; long-term investments in development make the U.S. and our allies more safe and prosperous.
We urge Congress to counter these reckless budget cuts that would upend the decades-long aid reform agenda. Any reform effort must be based on sound reform principles, clear objectives, and a global development strategy drafted in consultation with Congress and the development community.