Community Rallies Behind MFAN Effectiveness Principles

Since the Trump Administration announced its intentions to reorganize the federal government – including the State Department and USAID – MFAN has garnered broad support from the development community to ensure that the redesign effort enhances the effectiveness and efficiency of U.S. foreign assistance.

In May, MFAN put forth five Guiding Principles for Effective U.S. Assistance. These principles offer a path forward that builds on decades of smart foreign assistance reforms. MFAN also called for a transparent process, a U.S. Global Development Strategy, and a robust partnership between the Administration, Congress, and the development community.

Now more than 170 endorsing organizations and prominent individuals agree that these principles must be reflected in the federal budget and any reforms of U.S. foreign assistance:

  1. Foreign assistance structures must uphold diplomacy and development as distinct and equal disciplines.
  2. Foreign assistance must help create the conditions under which it is no longer necessary.
  3. Foreign assistance should focus on countries where the need is greatest or where it can have the most impact.
  4. Foreign assistance must be transparent and accountable to American taxpayers, as well as local citizens in developing countries.
  5. Foreign assistance must utilize broadly-accepted best practices such as strengthening local institutions and identifying and working with local stakeholders to address development constraints.

The Hill originally published the op-eds featured below as a six-part series on a principled approach to redesign. The authors are all experts in sustainable, results-driven, and accountable development.

We invite you to read, discuss, and share the Guiding Principles as well as the opinions expressed in The Hill series. MFAN will continue to seek more effective and accountable foreign assistance that delivers even greater results for people in need and the U.S. taxpayer.

Carolyn Miles, President and CEO, Save the Children and Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World

“Strengthening the development pillar is particularly critical, including by elevating USAID as a wholly independent lead aid agency with strong policy, planning, and budget authority. And of course these tools must have sufficient resources — not just financial — but also technical and geographic expertise will be essential.”

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Andrew S, Natsios, former USAID Administrator (2001-2006)

“The relationship between development, diplomacy and defense is one of mutually beneficial partnership. When aid is treated as instrumental and subordinated to diplomacy and defense, the opposite often happens: policy makers misallocate money to programs aid officers know will fail, while ignoring programs that have a history of success. Only when development is treated as equal to diplomacy and defense will its great potential be fully realized and the American people protected.”

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Lester Munson, former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Staff Director (2012-2015)

“President Bush rightly elevated development as a pillar of our National Security Strategy. President Obama issued the first-ever U.S. Global Development Policy. President Trump can be the first to present a global development strategy that prioritizes, focuses, and clarifies our development efforts abroad.”

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Bill O’Keefe, Vice President for Government Relations and Advocacy, Catholic Relief Services

“Focusing aid in areas of greatest need typically yields the most impactful results. Nutrition interventions demonstrate this well: children who get the right nutrition early on are ten times more likely to overcome deadly childhood diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia, and are more likely to achieve higher levels of education…Focusing international assistance on need is, in and of itself, a means of maximizing the efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”

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Tessie San Martin, President and CEO, Plan International USA

“At a time when USAID’s policy capacity is vital to government accountability efforts, the agency’s Policy, Planning, and Learning Bureau (PPL) is facing a 44 percent cut in the president’s proposed budget. Data transparency is not the obscure obsession of a few policy wonks. Without transparency there is no accountability. And without accountability there is no effectiveness…yet it’s tough to preach transparency and increased accountability to Americans and developing country stakeholders, while at the same time diminishing our own tools for doing this critical work.”

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Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) U.S. House of Representatives, Chairman of House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations (1985-2007)

“The ability to identify best practices and adapt to changing realities is crucial for any organization or industry’s success. This is as true on Wall Street as it is in global development… If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it is telling that the U.S. State Department, and more recently the U.S. Defense Department, have both followed in USAID and MCC’s footsteps, establishing more rigorous evaluation policies to maximize impact.”

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