MFAN Applauds Congressional Leadership on Reorganization and Aid Effectiveness in Fiscal Year 2018 Spending Bills

September 18, 2017 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs George Ingram, Tessie San Martin, and Connie Veillette.

MFAN is pleased to see multiple aid effectiveness provisions included in Senate and House State and Foreign Operations (SFOPs) Appropriations bills which were recently approved in the Senate Appropriations Committee and by the full House.

The Senate State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill approved by the full Appropriations Committee asserts Congress’ role in redesign, echoes Administrator Mark Green’s priorities by requiring plans for eventually transitioning countries to new forms of partnership with the United States, and maintains support for USAID’s operating and accountability mechanisms.

Budget & Redesign – The Senate bill expresses significant concern about the low funding requested by the President and the lack of clarity and rigor of the redesign process. The bill maintains personnel funding levels for State and USAID and bars those funds from being used to merge USAID into the State Department.  It also requires any reports on proposed reorganization be submitted to Congress and reviewed by GAO and the Inspectors General of State and USAID.  MFAN welcomes this language as our Guiding Principles for Effective U.S. Assistance urge meaningful consultation with Congress and the development community on any reorganization effort.

Transition Planning – The legislation requires any new country strategy to include plans to transition countries from assistance.  MFAN believes that foreign assistance should help create the conditions under which it is no longer necessary and that planning for a transition from assistance is appropriate for middle income countries and other countries for whom assistance is becoming less essential. State and USAID should additionally establish a set of context-specific benchmarks for transitioning countries in order to avoid prematurely moving countries off of grant-based assistance.

Development Strategy – Aligning with MFAN’s call to create a development strategy to help guide both global engagement and reform, the bill further requires the Secretary of State and USAID Administrator to development a National Diplomacy and Development Strategy.  Strategies are essential for good policy making and budgeting, and separate diplomacy and development strategies, along with a defense strategy, comprise the components of a comprehensive national security strategy.

USAID Operating Expenses – The bill allocates near level funding compared to prior fiscal years for USAID’s operating budget, totaling $1.35 billion, critical for staffing and operations of our lead development agency.

Transparency, Monitoring, and Evaluation – Finally, the bill emphasizes the importance of data transparency and quality evaluation of programs, including evaluations that incorporate local stakeholder input and that assess the ongoing impact of programs.

The House passed several appropriations bills recently, including SFOPs.  The approved bill includes reform-friendly language on reorganization, country ownership, transparency, and monitoring and evaluation.

Redesign – The House bill also requires that Congress be provided with any plans for reorganization.  MFAN is pleased to see Congress asserting its oversight role in the reorganization process to ensure the effort is based on principled reform and a global development strategy.

Domestic Resource Mobilization (DRM) – The bill includes MFAN supported language calling on USAID to identify candidate countries for DRM assistance, which aims to mobilize a country’s own resources for development, a key element of locally owned and driven development.

Measurement – The House bill calls for USAID to develop agency-wide metrics to measure progress toward achieving locally owned sustainable development.  MFAN has long advocated for indicators on country ownership, and is pleased to see this focus on sustainability of impact.

MFAN applauds the appropriators in the both chambers for their commitments to aid effectiveness, accountability, and country ownership.  As the bills move into conference and the reorganization process at State and USAID continues, MFAN urges legislators to maintain and strengthen these provisions.

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