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.
With the release of the first round of impact evaluations, MFAN is pleased that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) continues to push forward and insist that we prove the effectiveness of U.S. development programs, be transparent about the successes and challenges, and, importantly, learn from our experiences.
Notably, Ingram also cites Bulletin No. 12-01 issued by the Office of Management and Budget, which directs 22 U.S. government agencies to publish foreign assistance data in a common format consistent with the standards of the Foreign Assistance Dashboard and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).
We are pleased that dozens of development practitioners, foundations, implementers, and scholars have joined together to voice support for USAID’s Implementation and Procurement Reform (IPR) initiative. USAID’s IPR initiative will help to empower local citizens in partner countries to drive the development process, combat corruption, and hold their own governments accountable.
While S. 3341 rightly seeks to codify a review of U.S. diplomacy and development programs every four years, the lack of emphasis on a strong and independent development voice implies backsliding in our prioritization of U.S. development efforts. The QDDR’s important assertion that “diplomacy and development must be mutually reinforcing” is not well served by the legislation in its current form.
In a period of intense political polarization, MFAN is pleased that members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee came together to pass The Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 (S. 3310) earlier today. This bipartisan legislation demonstrates broad agreement that the U.S. has an important role to play overseas and that we can drive better development outcomes with these critical reforms.