MFAN Launches Guiding Principles of Effective Assistance, the Right Way to Reform

May 19, 2017 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs George Ingram and Connie Veillette.

Today, MFAN released a set of Guiding Principles of Effective Assistance that lays out unequivocal standards for reform.  MFAN has asserted that any reorganization effort must increase – not undermine – the effectiveness of our development institutions.  Foreign assistance is vital to advancing U.S. interests – promoting security, economic opportunity, and our moral values – by helping to promote human dignity and ensure that countries can meet the needs of their people.

The Trump Administration plans to reorganize the federal government and propose deep and disproportionate budget cuts to foreign assistance programs.

A principled approach to achieving greater effectiveness begins with core structural requirements for U.S. development institutions.  The United States’ lead development agency must: remain independent; control its policy and budget authorities; operate with accountability, transparency, and efficiency; have a selective and focused presence; and be sufficiently resourced.

To maximize efficiency, foreign assistance structures should adhere to these five principles:

  1. Uphold diplomacy and development as distinct but equal disciplines within American foreign policy;
  2. Help create the conditions under which it is no longer needed;
  3. Be focused on countries where the need is greatest or where it can have the most impact;
  4. Be transparent and accountable to American taxpayers, local stakeholders, and international partners; and
  5. Tap the best practices in development across the U.S. Government.

“These principles should be the foundation for the administration’s reorganization process,” said Connie Veillette, MFAN Co-Chair and Senior Fellow at The Lugar Center. “We will work with Congress to ensure these principles are the standard for any reorganization plan and or budget proposal.”

“MFAN was founded on the premise of aid reform and effectiveness, but we believe it must be based on a coherent strategy and principles,” said George Ingram, MFAN Co-Chair and Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution. “These principles are a playbook for an administration that thus far appears to have only used drastic and shortsighted budget cuts to guide its reorganization plans.”

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