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Opinion: 4 Pragmatic Steps to Jump-Start Foreign Assistance Reform (Devex)
July 28, 2017
From the op-ed:
President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have embarked upon a time-honored tradition for new administrations: A government efficiency review. In the case of the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, Tillerson has brought in outside consultants to conduct wide-ranging interviews with staff, and even produced “word clouds” to help suss out foreign affairs priorities.
The White House, State and USAID reviews have rightly emphasized addressing duplication and inefficiency. But rather than focusing on a State/USAID merger, as has been widely rumored, the administration should look at something that leads to some of the biggest duplications, triplications, and even quadruplications of capacity that exists in the U.S. government: The severe fragmentation of U.S. development assistance.
Writing as former senior officials in two of the government’s largest development agencies — USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation — we have seen this fragmentation first-hand. The biggest efficiency gap in the U.S. foreign affairs agencies is not the division between State and USAID — it is the diffusion of U.S. development aid’s goals and roles across twenty-some federal agencies and offices. State and USAID should remain separate and distinct — they have different missions, represent distinct professional disciplines and require different organizational cultures. But the development architecture is long overdue for realignment and consolidation. We have just released a paper laying out a path for doing this — starting with a set of immediately actionable reforms, and moving from there toward a more fundamental reorganization plan.