More Than 100 Endorsers Agree: Effectiveness Principles Should Guide Foreign Aid Reform

Reforms to U.S. foreign assistance should be conducted jointly by Congress and the Administration – in consultation with the development community – and guided by these principles, a comprehensive review of U.S. efforts, and a coherent Global Development Strategy.

Foreign assistance is vital to advancing U.S. interests – promoting security, economic opportunity, and our moral values – by helping to protect human dignity and ensure that countries can meet the needs of their people.

In order to promote these interests, the goals of United States foreign assistance should be to:

  • Reduce global poverty and alleviate human suffering by focusing aid where the need is greatest or where it can have the most impact.
  • Counter transnational threats, including global pandemics and violent extremism.
  • Support human rights and democracy.
  • Expand global prosperity through trade and investment, transitioning countries from aid to new forms of economic cooperation.
  • Build and reinforce strategic partnerships.

Structural Requirements

The following features are critical making U.S. development more effective, efficient, and accountable:

  • An independent lead aid agency. The U.S. should have an independent lead aid agency that is headed by a Cabinet-rank official. It should be exclusively focused on global development and humanitarian response for the U.S. Government.
  • Strong policy, planning, and budget authority. The lead aid agency should be empowered to conduct its own policy, planning, and field-based analysis to support long-lasting economic growth and development.
  • Accountable, transparent, and efficient functions. All agencies should have the capacity to evaluate programs, the flexibility to reduce duplication when needed, and the ability to reinforce success by scaling up best practices.
  • Selective and focused presence. Aid should be focused on countries with the greatest need and where aid can do the most good. As conditions in countries change, the nature of our assistance and field presence should change with it.
  • Sufficient resources. Sufficient resources should be allocated for technical, sector, and geographic expertise to support U.S. aid programs.

Principles of U.S. Foreign Assistance

To maximize effectiveness and efficiency, U.S. foreign assistance should be carried out by agencies that follow these basic principles:

  1. Foreign assistance structures should uphold diplomacy and development as distinct but equal. Therefore:
    • DO coordinate diplomacy and development, but have separate structures with have clear lines of authority and accountability.
    • DO strengthen policy, planning, learning, and budget management capacities, which provide mission-critical tools, staff, and authority over policies and budgets.
    • DON’T subordinate long-term development goals to short-term strategic interests – such as by combining the Development Assistance account with Economic Support Funds.
    • DON’T cut operating expenses and staff capacity needed to manage development programs effectively.
  1. Foreign assistance should help create the conditions under which it is no longer necessary. Therefore:
    • DO partner with Congress and the development community to conduct a comprehensive review of U.S. foreign assistance and create a Global Development Strategy.
    • DO develop country strategies in consultation with local stakeholders that ultimately help countries meet the needs of their own people.
    • DO increase assistance to targeted countries and communities to enable them to raise and spend their own revenues for development and to more effectively partner with the private sector.
    • DON’T rush countries off assistance based on arbitrary timelines, especially countries with significant development needs or a strong commitment to partnership and reform.
  1. Foreign assistance should be focused on countries where the need is greatest or where it can have the most impact. Therefore:
    • DO focus on measuring and increasing the sustained impact of U.S. assistance.
    • DO exercise selectivity in allocating resources across regions, countries, and sectors that yield the greatest impact or where people’s need is the greatest.
    • DO increase the flexibility of humanitarian and development assistance to better align aid with need, increase impact, and adapt to changing realities on the ground.
    • DON’T continue development assistance programs that cannot have a sustained impact – including programs that are too small to be catalytic, lack a mutual commitment to shared goals, or where other donors and institutions can do it better.
  1. Foreign assistance should be transparent and accountable to American taxpayers and local stakeholders. Therefore:
    • DO ensure all U.S. agencies publish high-quality and comprehensive aid data to
    • DO implement rigorous standards for evaluation – as directed by the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2016 – making evaluations public and sharing findings across U.S. agencies, to U.S. taxpayers, and to program beneficiaries.
    • DO facilitate data collection so local partners can hold their governments and donors accountable and incorporate local participation as part of the evaluation process.
    • DON’T prioritize short-term measures of inputs and outputs over long-term results of outcomes and impact.
  1. Foreign assistance should tap the best practices in development across the U.S. Government and international partners. Therefore:
    • DO work with partner countries and development stakeholders to identify constraints to development so U.S. assistance can best help overcome them.
    • DO seek opportunities to strengthen local institutions by channeling aid through local partners where possible and by engaging local stakeholders throughout both program design and implementation.
    • DO take advantage of the comparative strengths of other bilateral and multilateral development partners.
    • DON’T hamstring programs by encumbering them with Washington-based earmarks and initiatives that undermine local priorities.

G. William Anderson, School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech University
Gregory Adams
Nazanin Ash, Vice President for Policy and Advocacy, the International Rescue Committee
J. Brian Atwood, Dean, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota; Former Administrator, USAID
Susan Barnett, Founder, Faiths for Safe Water
Emily Vargas-Baron, Director, RISE Institute, Former USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator
Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute
Rodney Bent, Former Government Official
Brad D Berman, MD, FAAP Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital
The Honorable Howard Berman, Former Member U.S. House of Representatives; MFAN Honorary Co-Chair
Eric Bjornlund, President, Democracy International
Letitia Butler, Co-Chair, USAID Alumni Association Board
Sean Callahan, President & CEO, Catholic Relief Services
Ann Mei Chang, Former Executive Director, U.S. Global Development Lab, USAID
Samantha Custer, Director of Policy Analysis, AidData at the College of William & Mary
Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Council on Foreign Relations
Helene Gayle, President Emeritus, CARE
Carrie Hessler-Radelet, President & CEO, Project Concern International; Former Director, Peace Corps
Cindy Huang, Former Deputy Vice President for Sector Operations, MCC
Alan Hudson, Executive Director, Global Integrity
George Ingram, Senior Fellow, Brookings; MFAN Co-Chair
The Honorable Jim Kolbe, Former Member U.S. House of Representatives; MFAN Honorary Co-Chair
James Kunder, Principal, Kunder-Reali Associates; Former Acting Deputy Administrator, USAID
Bill Lane, Caterpillar Retired
Milt Lauenstein, Co-founder, Purdue Peace Project
Ben Leo, Visiting Fellow, Center for Global Development; CEO,
The Honorable Richard G. Lugar, Former Member U.S. Senate; MFAN Honorary Co-Chair
Anne Lynam Goddard, President & CEO, ChildFund International
Abby Maxman, President, Oxfam America
Peter McPherson
, President, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; Former Administrator, USAID
Jeff Meer, Executive Director, Handicap International
Carolyn Miles, President & CEO, Save the Children
David Miliband, President & CEO, the International Rescue Committee
Scott Morris, Director, US Development Policy Initiative, Center for Global Development
Rob Mosbacher, Former President & CEO, OPIC
Les Munson, Former Staff Director, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Andrew S. Natsios, Former Administrator, USAID
John Norris, Executive Director, Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative, Center for American Progress
Larry Nowels, Independent Consultant
Michelle Nunn, President & CEO, CARE
Raymond C. Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America
Diana Ohlbaum, Independent Consultant
John Oldfield, CEO, Water 2017
Sally Paxton, U.S. Representative, Publish What You Fund
Carol Peasley, Independent Consultant; Former Senior Foreign Service Officer, USAID
Tony Pipa, Former Chief Strategy Officer USAID
Steve Radelet, Director, Global Human Development Program, Georgetown University
David Ray, President, CARE Action
William S. Reese, CEO, International Youth Foundation
Susan Reichle, President, International Youth Foundation
Jennifer Rigg, Executive Director, GCE-US
Tessie San Martin, President & CEO, Plan International; MFAN Co-Chair
Lisa Schirch, North American Research Director, Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research
Liz Schrayer
Asif Shaikh, President & CEO, PaxTerra
Ritu Sharma, Director, Global Center for Gender & Youth, International Youth Foundation
Gayle Smith, CEO, ONE; Former Administrator, USAID
Donald Steinberg, CEO, World Learning; Former USAID Deputy Administrator
Jeffrey L. Sturchio, President & CEO, Rabin Martin
Beth C. Tritter, Former Vice President for Policy and Evaluation, Millenium Challenge Corporation
Connie Veillette, Senior Fellow, Global Food Security and Aid Effectiveness, The Lugar Center; MFAN Co-Chair
David A. Weiss, President & CEO, Global Communities

1,000 Days
Alliance to End Hunger
Basic Education Coalition
Berkeley Research Group, Government Contracts and Grants Practice
Better World Campaign
Bread for the World
Catholic Relief Services
Center for International Policy
Chemonics International
ChildFund International
Common Defense
Compton Foundation
Congressional Hunger Center
Democracy International
Development Gateway
Development InfoStructure
Dexis Consulting Group
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
EnCompass LLC
FHI 360
Foreign Policy for America
Global Campaign for Education – US
Global Citizen
Global Health Council
Global Health Technologies Coalition
Global Human Development Program, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service
Global Integrity
Global Progressive Hub
Global Women’s Institute
IHC Global
International Center for Research on Women
International Fund for Animal Welfare
International Rescue Committee
International Youth Foundation
IntraHealth International
JAM & Associates HealthCare Consultancy
John Snow, Inc. (JSI)
Land O’Lakes International Development
Management Sciences for Health
Mercy Corps
Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network
Mulhauser and Associates
National Peace Corps Association
NCD Child
Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) Roundtable
Panagora Group
Peace Direct
Plan International USA
Professional Services Council
Project Concern International
Rabin Martin
Radcliffe Global Solutions
Results for Development
RTI International
Save the Children
Social Impact
Society for International Development, Washington Chapter
Sonjara, Inc.
The Borgen Project
The Hunger Project
The Lugar Center
Training Resources Group, Inc.
Truman Center for National Policy
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights
USAID Alumni Association
Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance
Wildlife Conservation Society
Women Thrive Alliance
World Education, Inc.
World Learning

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