This progress could not have come at a better time; budget pressures demand better results, and the Agency will bear greater responsibility at the leading edge of U.S. foreign policy as our military leverage decreases in places like Afghanistan and the greater Middle East.
When 870 million people around the world go hungry every day, making every food aid dollar count is not only a responsible use of taxpayer money, it is a moral imperative. For that reason, it is critical that any reforms seek efficiencies rather than cuts, and do not alter the basic programmatic focus of the U.S. food aid program. These programs help to feed 55 million people in need around the world, supporting both emergency responses and addressing chronic hunger.
The current approach to delivering food aid is outdated and in need of reform. In an era of decreasing budgets, policymakers simply can’t afford not to consider any credible proposal to maximize the impact of taxpayer dollars. We urge the Administration to make its proposal public and include it in the Fiscal Year 2014 budget request, and we urge Congress to give it careful and complete consideration.
Once given these facts, people quickly moved from being skeptical to supportive and even glad to hear that their tax dollars were helping to bring about such positive change.
Because the bill came so close to becoming law, we are optimistic about its prospects in the 113th Congress and we plan to redouble our efforts to support its passage. We remain grateful for Texas Rep. Ted Poe’s leadership in introducing the bill, and for the support of original co-sponsor Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA) and 55 other Members of the House who endorsed the legislation.
In order for this bill to become law, the Senate must act before the end of the 112th Congress. We urge them to pass the bill immediately, and send it to the President for his signature.
We are concerned, however, that the continued consolidation of power over health and development programs in the State Department threatens to undermine our overall efforts to achieve greater impact in alleviating poverty, eradicating disease, and fostering inclusive economic growth. MFAN’s position has been, and remains, that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) should be the lead agency on global health policy and implementation in the field when the programs being implemented have a significant development impact.
Moreover, the GPA is essential to codifying the foreign assistance reforms already underway within the U.S. government and seeks to ensure a continued effort in making foreign assistance more effective. The bill mandates: transparency and evaluation to learn from mistakes and inform future programs; better coordination within our own government, with the private sector, and with other donors to make programs more efficient; and long term-strategic planning to focus resources where they are most needed.
The introduction of the Global Partnerships Act provides an opportunity for Members of Congress, including new Members, to work together in a bipartisan fashion to strengthen accountability and effectiveness in U.S. development programs. As the 113th Congress approaches, we encourage policymakers to consider this comprehensive, long-overdue proposal that would bring our foreign assistance into the 21st century and allow us to more effectively address new and pending global challenges.
We are particularly optimistic of success because of what we heard on the 2012 campaign trail. Both President Obama and Governor Romney spoke publicly about the importance of U.S. efforts to alleviate poverty, drive economic growth, and eradicate disease in developing countries. We hope that policymakers in both parties will agree that our ability to maintain our leadership and leverage on a changing world stage, and turn the unprecedented development gains of the past decade into lasting change, will rest heavily on how well we use non-military tools of foreign policy like development and diplomacy.