A Little Bit of CGD at USAID

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This week, CGD took another step forward in putting the “do” in our mission of being a “think and do tank.” For a number of years, we have hosted policymakers as visiting fellows at the center, a great program that has helped to ground our work in the realities of policymaking. (Of course, as a visiting fellow alumnus, I may be a bit biased!). Now, we are turning this program on its head and sending one of our own, Casey Dunning, into the policy world under a new CGD-sponsored fellowship.

Country Ownership in El Salvador: USAID and Local Solutions

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“If we don’t take a risk, we won’t reap the rewards.” We heard this refrain from a USAID official working in El Salvador to advance USAID’s agenda to promote greater country ownership by cultivating public-private partnerships with local actors. Partnering directly with local entities can pose potential risks to USAID, but in El Salvador the decision to increase local implementation has proved pragmatic and beneficial, as it capitalized on local knowledge and the local private sector.

Inspiring Words for Aspiring Young Development Workers

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On May 19, USAID Administrator Gayle Smith achieved that rare feat of a truly inspirational graduation speech, drawing on her experiences as a journalist, human rights activist, and senior government official to call graduates of the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University to public service.

Let's DevTalk about Country Ownership

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I want to discuss country ownership in US development activities. Let’s take the case of El Salvador. As you may have heard, El Salvador has the highest homicide rate in the world right now. But what you may not know is that El Salvador is also home to the largest locally-led public-private partnership in USAID’s history.

A Lot of Vision, A Little Time: Gayle Smith’s First Major Policy Speech

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Yesterday, USAID Administrator Gayle Smith delivered her first major policy speech in a cavernous Capitol Hill auditorium that was filled to capacity. Introducing USAID’s new head, Senator David Perdue expressed hope that Smith would have more time in the job than she thought she would. That’s remarkably high praise from a Republican senator in a year that will mark the end of the Obama administration.

STOP. Attempting to Overhaul the US Foreign Aid Apparatus is a Trap

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The last time Congress overhauled the US foreign assistance apparatus, John F. Kennedy was president.  The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA) made some sweeping changes. There hasn’t been a wholesale reexamination of how US development programs are structured, administered, and coordinated.  Exhibit A is the fact that over 20 US agencies currently deliver aid programs.  As such, there is a compelling case for finally fixing a broken, fragmented, and underperforming system.  Yet pushing for a new FAA is a really bad idea. Whoever takes the White House in 2017 should not fall into this trap.