June 28, 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.
MFAN is pleased to see multiple aid effectiveness provisions included in the Fiscal Year 2019 Senate and House State and Foreign Operations (SFOPs) Appropriations bills, which were recently approved in the Appropriations Committees of both chambers. MFAN wishes to thank Senate SFOPs Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Senate SFOPs Subcommittee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT), House SFOPs Subcommittee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), and House SFOPs Subcommittee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) for their strong leadership.
The FY19 Appropriations bills ensure Congressional consultation on sufficient staffing levels at both State and USAID as well as on federal reorganization, echo USAID Administrator Mark Green’s country transition and Domestic Resource Mobilization priorities, and maintain support for USAID’s operating and accountability mechanisms.
Federal Reorganization – Both the House and Senate bills prohibit any reorganization without consultation with Congress and the head of the affected agency. The House bill also requires detailed analysis and reporting on agency reorganization, including information on how the proposed changes would impact efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability. MFAN encourages continued congressional engagement on any reorganization that could impact the efficiency and effectiveness of U.S. foreign aid.
Strategic Transitions – In support of USAID Administrator Mark Green’s goal to end the need for foreign assistance, the House and Senate bills each require that country transition plans be sent to relevant committees. Both chambers call for regular consultation among the Administrator, Congress, and development stakeholders.
Domestic Resource Mobilization (DRM) – Recognizing the great momentum around financing self-reliance, both the House and Senate call upon the USAID Administrator to develop a strategy for Domestic Resource Mobilization, a key tool in harnessing public sector resources for development. Both the House and Senate language pull extensively from MFAN’s appropriations requests.
Monitoring and Evaluation – The Senate bill includes positive language on evaluation, including requiring a joint review between USAID and the State Department on the quality of program evaluations, which seeks to ensure that foreign assistance programs operate effectively and efficiently.
Procurement – As USAID prioritizes procurement reform under this administration, MFAN welcomes positive language from the House, which would require committee consultation on any significant proposed changes to USAID procurement guidance or directives.
Staffing – The House bill recommends a $77,000,000 increase in funding levels for hiring at the State Department above enacted levels, while the Senate bill would require hiring levels at the State Department and USAID to return to the onboard levels of September 30th 2016. Additionally, the House bill requires the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to report to Congress every 60 days from enactment until September 30th, 2020 on the personnel levels at their respective agencies.
USAID Operating Expenses – The Senate bill surpasses MFAN’s $1,362,000,000 request for USAID Operating Expenses, totaling $1,456,981,000, including Overseas Contingency Operations funds. The House bill allocates nearly level funding for Operating Expenses – an account critical for staffing and operations of our lead development agency.
USAID Capital Investment Fund – MFAN’s request to maintain funding for the Capital Investment Fund was accepted, with the Senate bill allocating $25 million above MFAN’s request for the USAID Capital Investment Fund. The House bill maintains funding from the FY17 enacted level.
Funds Disbursement – The Senate bill calls for a review of fund obligation and disbursement rates at the State Department and USAID. Recognizing reports on funding delays to Missions and implementing partners, it is critical for Congress to stay abreast of any delays that would impact programming on the ground.
MFAN applauds members of the Appropriations Committees in both chambers for their ongoing commitment to aid effectiveness, accountability, and country ownership. As the bills progress and as the federal reorganization process continues, MFAN urges legislators to maintain and strengthen these provisions.