Media Spotlight: Reaction to Shah’s Speech

Our partners at Devex posted a comprehensive summary of USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah’s speech delivered yesterday at an event hosted by MFAN Partner the Center for Global Development. Editor Rolf Rosenkranz provides a thorough overview of Shah’s key messages, particularly around USAID’s new evaluation policy and it’s position towards contractors and implementers. Quoted in the piece is MFAN’s Co-Chair and President of Bread for the World David Beckmann, as well as MFAN Partner Oxfam America. See below for excerpts:

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah on Thursday (Jan. 19) unveiled several new procurement reform initiatives – some of them effective immediately – that are meant to boost the monitoring and evaluation of field projects and more closely scrutinize especially the government’s larger implementing partners.The move is part of the Obama administration’s ongoing quest to win public and congressional support for turning USAID, an agency that has been widely criticized for being overstretched and underfunded, into an innovative enterprise that leverages more investment from partner countries and the private sector than it relies on outside contractors and consultants.

David Beckmann, co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, called Shah’s speech “extraordinary and hard-hitting” and ongoing USAID reforms “essential and timely,” urging the Obama administration to work with policymakers from both parties to draft legislation that will “enshrine this new development business model in law in order to drive long-term results.”

Oxfam America praised Shah for leading a “renaissance” at USAID that “puts poor people in the driver’s seat.” But, in a reaction that foreshadows tough choices ahead, Oxfam America Director of Aid Effectiveness Gregory Adams also noted: “For too long USAID has been understaffed. Building up USAID’s internal capacity is critical to its long-term development success. This will require reshaping USAID’s global footprint, closing some missions and offices and expanding staffing in others, while continuing US leadership and participation in key international forums.”

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