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The President’s nominee for US Global AIDS Coordinator (read: the head of PEPFAR) – Dr. Deborah Birx – will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday for what is hoped to be a speedy confirmation hearing.  PEPFAR should be fresh on the minds of committee members who passed legislation late last year to extend authorization for the US global AIDS program. 

Despite strong support from members on both sides of the aisle, debate around the bill highlighted key challenges around the program’s transparency, sustainability, and coordination with other donors and partner countries.  Dr. Birx will no doubt have to tackle these issues when she takes the helm at OGAC, so here are a few questions I hope you'll have the chance to answer at tomorrow’s hearing:

  1. Publish What You Fund’s 2013 Aid Transparency Index ranked PEPFAR “Very Poor” for the amount, accessibility, and usability of information it makes publically available. This rank places PEPFAR behind every other US agency on the list including the MCC, USAID, US Treasury, US Department of Defense, and US State Department. What steps will you take in your first year as Global AIDS Coordinator to increase the transparency and usability of information on PEPFAR’s funding, activities and results?
     
  2. Country ownership is a fundamental part of achieving PEPFAR’s vision for a sustainable global response to AIDS.  But some countries are closer to transition than others, and the way PEPFAR engages in each country will be different moving forward.  How can PEPFAR incentivize greater partner-country responsibility to safeguard current gains and increase the impact and scale-up of programs?  In countries that are not prepared to transition, how can PEPFAR programs become more efficient, effective, and sustainable?
     
  3. PEPFAR’s success depends on its ability to coordinate with multiple donors, countries, and US agencies in support of common health goals.  How will you strengthen coordination with key partners  particularly the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria – and what steps will you take to better integrate PEPFAR’s programs with other donor- and country-led activities?

(And pending confirmation, we hope Dr. Birx will check out our policy paper with strategies for how she can make progress in these areas and others!)