“I know that foreign aid is one of the least popular expenditures – even though it amounts to less than one percent of the federal budget. But foreign assistance cannot be viewed as charity. It is fundamental to our national security, and any sensible long-term strategy to battle extremism.”
We urge Senate leaders to work with the Administration to achieve stronger reforms in food aid programs so that American tax dollars can go farther and American compassion can reach more people in need. On the House side, we remain disappointed that the House Agriculture Committee draft once again fails to incorporate any reforms.
vPresident Obama’s FY2014 budget request proposal to reform food aid has sparked renewed debate on whether the current system could provide food to those in need more effectively and efficiently. The President’s proposal aims to improve the Food for Peace program that distributes emergency food assistance by providing more flexibility to purchase food locally and regionally in addition to shipping commodities from the U.S. Moreover, the proposal would eliminate inefficient practices such as the “monetization” of food aid that occurs when NGOs are provided commodities to sell in local markets in order to fund development projects, rather than funding these projects directly.
Though a sliver of our overall budget, U.S. foreign assistance delivers a real return-on-investment. The Obama administration and Congress need to support these programs and work together to make them more effective and accountable. And the American public deserves an honest debate about the importance of our foreign assistance.
In a recent post on the Wilson Center’s “The New Security Beat” blog, senior scholar John Sewell offers his perspective on the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which was released in December.
In the State of Union speech last week, President Obama called for the reorganization of the federal government. MFAN Principal Connie Veillette, director of CGD’s Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance, responded by posting a blog in which she asked her readers to comment on how they would reorganize the government agencies that manage foreign assistance.
State’s spokesman P.J. Crowley told POLITICO, “If we have to take a significant cut in foreign assistance, in some fashion, that is going to affect Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. Those are countries where we have vital interests and vital security concerns.”
As a new Congress gets into gear, both Republicans and Democrats have a solemn duty to do the people’s work and to make sure their taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely. U.S. foreign assistance is already under the microscope, as it should be, but we believe policymakers should focus on making it better instead of slashing budgets. Foreign assistance accounts for less than 1% of our federal budget, and our investments in it can pay real dividends for the cost.
Sara Messer, policy manager for aid effectiveness, at MFAN Partner ONE, recently posted a blog about the reoccurring themes of innovation and competitiveness in President Obama’s State of the Union earlier this week. “At a time when government programs are on the chopping block and every dollar needs to be justified, it’s important that we support those programs that are making real reforms and changing lives for millions of people around the world.”
“Like an enterprise, we’re focused on delivering the highest possible value for our shareholders. In this case, the American people and the congressional leaders who represent them. We will deliver that value by scaling back our footprint to shift resources to critical regions, rationalizing our operations and vigilantly fighting fraud, waste and abuse.”