September 8, 2017 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs George Ingram, Tessie San Martin, and Connie Veillette.
MFAN is encouraged by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recently outlined plans in a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) to streamline the Department’s special envoy and coordinator positions by maintaining some posts and eliminating, relocating, and consolidating others. It is promising to see the State Department taking steps to create clearer lines of authority and reduce duplication.
While these positions can serve an important role mainstreaming issues across the Department or bringing special attention to pressing crises, careful thought must be given to their mandate, ability to contribute to a coherent strategy, and length of service.
We, as MFAN Co-Chairs, called for the elimination of the vast majority of special envoys and representatives in our Discussion Draft on aid architecture, and welcome a close examination with Congress of these posts. Reforms should empower the regional and functional bureaus within the State Department as well as USAID to fulfill their respective missions. In alignment with MFAN’s Guiding Principles for Effective U.S. Assistance, these reforms should be accompanied by a comprehensive global development strategy and be conducted in partnership with Congress.
With these announced changes, confirmed leadership at the State Department, USAID, and related aid agencies is more vital than ever. The Administration should swiftly nominate candidates for remaining leadership positions.