January 19, 2018 (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.
Many of MFAN’s aid effectiveness priorities are reflected in new guidance for foreign aid accountability. Last week, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released guidelines that set standards pertaining to monitoring, evaluation, and learning for all U.S. foreign assistance agencies. The guidance was mandated by the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act (P.L. 114-191), which was sponsored by Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) and signed into law in July 2016.
MFAN continues to champion this bipartisan effort and commends OMB for undertaking a consultative process to develop the guidance. Many MFAN recommendations are incorporated as core tenants of the final memorandum:
- All agencies administering foreign assistance programs are required within one year to establish evaluation policies and procedures that align with the OMB guidance.
- Agencies must apply evaluation findings to program and budget planning to ensure that current lessons inform future strategies and projects.
- Local participation in monitoring and evaluation is encouraged, in alignment with MFAN’s country ownership agenda.
“We applaud OMB for establishing high yet achievable standards to enhance evaluation and learning,” said George Ingram, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and MFAN Co-Chair. “By requiring agency-specific evaluation policies, this guidance will institutionalize best practices in foreign aid evaluation.”
“The inclusion of local stakeholders in evaluations is necessary to unlocking the true impact of a program,” said Tessie San Martin, President and CEO of Plan International USA and MFAN Co-Chair. “To achieve country ownership and sustainability, local populations must be involved from the program’s inception through to evaluation.”
“We thank Congressman Poe, in particular, who spearheaded and championed this effort on the Hill,” said Connie Veillette, Senior Fellow at The Lugar Center and MFAN Co-Chair. “He understands that rigorous monitoring and evaluation help inform sound policy and program decisions, and ultimately ensure the best return on our foreign aid investments.”
The OMB process has produced sound policy guidance, however, MFAN remains concerned about the need to maintain proper staffing and resources in order to carry out these important measures. MFAN looks forward to continuing to work with OMB, aid agencies, and Congress throughout the implementation of this new guidance.