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The State Department’s new office of the director of U.S. foreign assistance, led by Randall Tobias, has released a foreign assistance framework (pdf) for “planning, budgeting, and reporting clearly set targets for meeting goals” for transformational development.
The State Department website says that the new framework will provide, for the first time, a comprehensive U.S. foreign assistance strategy and a mechanism for measuring and reporting on foreign aid efforts. While development policymakers and practitioners have been calling for a cohesive U.S. development assistance strategy and better measurement of impact, the question remains: how comprehensive is the new U.S. foreign assistance framework?
The framework covers only State Department and USAID programs, missing an opportunity to fully consolidate and rationalize assistance scattered across many U.S. government agencies including, increasingly, DOD. In addition, the framework’s focus on country-level assistance potentially undercuts efforts to address challenges that cross borders.
In the matrix outlining the new framework for U.S. foreign assistance, there are five objectives for foreign assistance: peace and security; governing justly and democratically; investing in people; economic growth; and humanitarian assistance. Notably, three of the five framework objectives directly mirror the MCA eligibility criteria (i.e. governing justly; investing in people; and economic growth) and the new framework may use the same data the MCC uses to classify MCA eligible countries.
Tobias is scheduled to present on transformational diplomacy and U.S. foreign assistance at the USAID Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Assistance (ACVFA) public meeting on Wednesday, June 7, 2006. Attendees will be listening for Tobias to answer the following questions:
How does the administration define “effective democracies” and “well-governed states”?
What are the implications for efforts to reduce poverty and promote equitable growth?
Does the administration expect to put forth performance indicators that the public can use to measure the success of foreign assistance interventions?
How will the country-level approach address cross-border development challenges?
Can the framework really improve the effectiveness of foreign aid when congressional earmarks remain?
What relationship will the MCC and the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator have given that they both exist outside the Office of the Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance, and therefore, outside the new framework?
How will USAID work with State to implement the new framework?