The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN), a nonpartisan coalition, is dedicated to bolstering the leadership role of the United States in promoting economic growth and reducing poverty and suffering around the world by improving the effectiveness, efficiency, and transparency of U.S. foreign assistance. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation commissioned BLE Solutions to conduct an evaluation, working in close collaboration with MFAN, to learn from MFAN’s past: its relevance and effectiveness, and the sustainability of its impact.

This evaluation studied MFAN’s activities and results from just before its launch in mid-2008 through mid-2016. It includes case studies that examine MFAN’s contribution to four distinct policy outcomes. MFAN has long believed in evidence-based planning and decision making.  This evaluation was a learning exercise for the network to identify successes, challenges, and opportunities to improve going forward.

Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) Evaluation 2008-2016: Executive Summary

Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) Evaluation 2008-2016: Full Report

Case Studies

Policy Outcome #1: The Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD-6)

President Barack Obama issued the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD-6) on September 22, 2010 – “The first of its kind by a U.S. [a]dministration,” according to its fact sheet. The Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) evaluation advisory committee members and other interviewees pointed to PPD-6 as a key outcome of MFAN’s work. One committee member said: “[PPD- 6] captured the essence of MFAN’s agenda. It was the first print out from the U.S. government on development policy, and it tracked with MFAN’s agenda.”…

“I don’t think this would have happened as is without MFAN. MFAN created a shared, articulated agenda spanning different constituencies … forged consensus, formalized policy positions … created political momentum. When you have a group of influential individuals calling for the same thing, that carries weight.” – MFAN Member

 

Policy Outcome #2: Rewriting the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA)

Most notably, through the collaborative drafting process that HFAC adopted – and MFAN’s convening role in it – MFAN brought the development community together, bridging sectoral divisions in support of foreign assistance reform. In addition, both congressional staffers and advocates continue to reference the Global Partnerships Act in advancing narrower reform legislation…

“After Rep. Berman committed to rewriting the FAA, it reoriented the north star to focus on bigger, broader reform. It forced conversation within the development community, because there was budding legislation affecting all parts of the community. MFAN helped create a safe space for the community to discuss these issues that didn’t exist otherwise.” – MFAN Member

 

Policy Outcome #3: The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act (FATAA)

Many stakeholders believe FATAA would not have been enacted absent MFAN’s ongoing engagement. Without that support, the congressional offices involved – busy with many issues – might not have been able to continue focusing on FATAA. MFAN offered grounding in development programming and deep knowledge of how Congress works …. Absent MFAN, some congressional offices might have focused on competing priorities instead, or broad-based political support might have been lacking…

“Whether you support foreign aid or not, you can agree on this: MFAN convinced people.” – HFAC Staffer

 

Policy Outcome #4: USAID’s Work on Local Solutions

As a key stakeholder, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) helped spur this significant organizational change through alliances with reformers within the agency, especially during the roll out of Implementation and Procurement Reform (IPR) in 2011 and 2012, and later with the implementation of USAID’s Local Solutions initiative (2013-2016). Throughout both phases, MFAN was a strong voice for the principle of ownership: clarifying what ownership meant, and amplifying the ownership message within the administration and the development community, as well as on the Hill…

“I’ll tell you very frankly I don’t think we could have gotten this building to move on [the] measurement side if it weren’t for MFAN. When MFAN put out the model, it really helped us move, and lead the way.” – USAID Senior Staff