*This is a joint post with Sarah Jane Hise
On Monday, the HELP Commission released its much-anticipated final report, "Beyond Assistance." The Commission, created by an Act of Congress spearheaded by Congressman Wolf (R-VA) in January 2004, certainly achieved its mission -- to conduct a thorough review of current U.S. foreign assistance efforts and make bold recommendations for mechanisms, structures and incentives to empower recipients and meet U.S. national security and foreign policy goals and objectives. The fact that such a diverse group of political and other interests could agree that foreign assistance is vital to U.S. interests but is broken and needs to be rebuilt in a way that elevates development to more equal footing with diplomacy and defense is music to our ears. As were most of the guiding principles and specific recommendations put forth by the Commission, including:
consolidating the disarray of organizations, purposes and accounts of assistance;rewriting the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to establish a new compact on foreign assistance;enhancing policy coherence, particularly by aligning U.S. trade and development policies;increasing resources -- staff, management training, and budget -- for foreign aid;ring-fencing long-term development assistance from redirection to short-term security and policy needs;encouraging greater investment in economic growth, agriculture and infrastructure programs; removing trade restrictions that hamper development, including reducing U.S. agricultural subsidies and providing duty-free/quota-free access for Millennium Challenge Account countries and for countries with $2000 per capita GDP;reestablishing an independent Office of Monitoring and Evaluation to track performance and report results; andinstituting a Quadrennial Development and Humanitarian Assistance Review.