May 15, 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 encouraged by the language included in the FY17 Omnibus that requires the Trump Administration to report to Congress on any efforts to reorganize the State Department and USAID. The spending package, which was signed into law on May 5th, will fund the government through the end of September. MFAN urged the administration to engage Congress on the issue of reorganization following the recent memo from the Office of Management and Budget that calls for the submission of draft Agency Reform Plans by June 30th. We applaud Congress for this timely provision and for exercising its oversight role, ensuring that no restructuring can occur without Congressional involvement.
The legislation specifically states that “prior to implementing any reorganization of the Department of State or the United States Agency for International Development … the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations.” The bill also requires that the report include several detailed analyses of any such reorganization, including the potential impact on “the ability to conduct adequate monitoring and oversight of foreign assistance.”
Secretary Tillerson has already initiated an internal review process, of which he spoke in an address to State Department employees last week. With the administration moving forward, now is the time to consult lawmakers in Congress and experts in the development community on this ongoing effort.
In addition to consultation, the administration should ensure that sound principles, an overall strategy and the proper personnel are in place prior to any reorganization effort. MFAN urges the Senate to schedule a hearing for USAID Administrator nominee Ambassador Mark Green.
MFAN applauds Congress for enacting the reporting provision on reorganization and for maintaining funding for foreign assistance in this appropriations legislation. The bill is a strong demonstration of the continued bipartisan commitment to effective foreign assistance.