MFAN applauds the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for unanimously approving the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013 (S. 1271) introduced by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). This bipartisan legislation would strengthen U.S. development programs in an era of constrained budget resources by directing U.S. agencies involved in foreign assistance to focus on more coherent, consistent, and transparent monitoring and evaluation to ensure that we get the most out of every dollar we spend on foreign assistance.
Continuing coverage of the 40 Under 40 Development Leaders in DC list, Devex featured Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer Steve Feldstein. The profile acknowledges Feldstein’s contribution to the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 (S.1524)—the reform bill aimed at strengthening USAID—that was sponsored by Chairman Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Lugar (R-IN), as well as his recent work on Haiti reconstruction. Check out the full article here.
However, supporters of a foreign aid overhaul in the development community remain hopeful that with the completion of the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review in the coming weeks, the administration will step up its engagement with Capitol Hill.
The different gaps in USAID’s leadership have different consequences for the Agency’s clout in Washington and for offices in the field. Within our own conversations, we’ve heard reasons for why certain AA positions are more critical to fill than others; the health community, for example, has a valid point when it says that the missing AA for Global Health means that the Agency lacks the ability to coordinate strategy with the President’s new Global Health Initiative. But does that make it the most important AA position to fill? Or should the priority be on a particular regional bureau, on Legislative and Public Affairs or on something else?
“The congressional drive to pass a wholesale reform of foreign-aid distribution has also been dealt a blow due to the GOP takeover of the House. The most comprehensive bill on this front was written by outgoing House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) — but his bill failed to move out of committee, and it’s unlikely that his successor, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), will take up the cause. Expect congressional Republicans to also resist large increases in the budget for the State Department, which is taking on increased roles all over the world, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan. The State Department’s budget for fiscal 2011 is still under consideration.”
“Of course, aid is about more than money; how rich countries design their aid programs is as important as how much they give. In this sense, the pressure on the budget could help drive aid reforms and force the administration and Congress to make tough choices about where and how we spend our aid dollars and push for stronger evidence on what works in development. The push to be more selective with our development assistance, focus on economic growth, and do a better job of measuring impact and results (and share it publicly) is already lined up in the presidential policy directive on U.S. global development policy and seems like a reform mantle that both parties could get behind.”
“If current polls hold, Republicans will make significant gains in the Senate and likely take the House of Representatives, elevating a set of lawmakers to new heights of power and complicating Obama’s efforts to execute his foreign-policy agenda.” -Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy
The Stimson Center recently launched a new blog, The Will and the Wallet, as part of its Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense program. The blog will serve as a hub for analysis and research of the elements of foreign affairs including budgets, institutions, structures, and authorities in an attempt to offer solutions for how the US can enhance its civilian capacity at a time of limited resources.
In light of new confirmations this week, below is the latest version of the Center for Global Development’s USAID Staff Tracker. Of note, former MFAN Principal and MercyCorps President Nancy Lindborg was confirmed as the assistant administrator for democracy, conflict, and humanitarian assistance at USAID on Wednesday. Read more about recent confirmations made before the … Continue reading MFAN Partner CGD’s Staff Tracker
Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry yesterday released a press release expressing his enthusiasm for President Obama’s new development policy, calling it “a comprehensive development policy based on measurable outcomes, country ownership, sustainable economic growth and multilateralism – a policy that will build capacity in the developing world, not dependence.”