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Next Steps in Modernizing US Foreign Assistance – New Ideas March 11, 2009

Posted by Molly in Briefing.
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TASC logoSteve Radelet led a roundtable discussion today on “Next Steps in Modernizing US Foreign Assistance,” sponsored by the Trade, Aid and Security Coalition.  Radelet is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development and Co-Chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network.

He laid out a four-point framework for tackling foreign assistance reform:

  • Strategy: Lay out clear goals for a development strategy – not just foreign assistance, but also include treasury, commerce and trade

  • Legislation: The Foreign Assistance Act is a “millstone around USAID’s neck”
    • Earmarks: 120% of the Development Assistance account is earmarked by FAA, according to a USAID official
    • USAID can’t respond flexibly to the current financial crisis by providing stimulus or safety nets because their funds are so earmarked
  • Resources: Foreign assistance budgets increased after ’97 but have leveled off in the last few years, when you exclude funds for Iraq, Afghanistan, debt forgiveness and HIV/AIDS
  • Organization: The USAID administrator should have a seat at the National Security Council
    • There are 21 agencies providing foreign assistance, and no clear view all US government activities in any one country
    • State and AID need large increases in human resources with technical skills like economics, engineering, agronomy
    • The procurement process should be overhauled, with better monitoring and evaluation

A sneak peak at the budget
Radelet predicted that a large portion of the 9.5% increase in the 150 account will go to HIV/AIDS programs.  He also projected that most funding cut from MCC this year will be restored in the FY10 budget.

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