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Beyond the HELP Commission

*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.

Obama's Uncommon Commitment to Global Development

obama_vftc.jpgThe security and well-being of each and every American is tied to the security and well-being of those who live beyond our borders, according to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. The theme of global interdependence is the bedrock of Obama's new strategy for America's engagement in the world, in which global development matters, a lot.

Templeton Foundation's Next Big Question Should Be: "How Can the Rich World Do Better?"

The Templeton Foundation's ad in Sunday's NYTimes, and the associated postings on the foundation's Web site asked "Will Money Solve Africa's Development Problems?" A quick glance at the distribution of answers is bound to cause some chagrin in the development aid world. Of the eight men asked, two said "yes," five said "no" or "no way" or "I thought so" (which I took as a 'no") and one hedged his bet with "only if."

More Reasons That Congress Should Reform US Food Aid

This year's decline in food aid [due to high food prices] follows a period when the sharply escalating costs of shipping American-grown food aid to Africa and Asia already reduced the tonnage supplied. The United States Government Accountability Office reported this year that the number of people being fed by American food aid had declined to 70 million in 2006 from 105 million in 2002, mainly because of rising transportation and logistical costs.

Washington Post Editorial Gets it Wrong on the Volcker Report on Corruption and the World Bank; Financial Times Does Better

A Washington Post editorial today ( A Fight Over Corruption ) says that the new report by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker on the effectiveness of the World Bank's anti-corruption department, (the Institutional Integrity Department or INT)) "reserved its toughest language for the bank bureaucracy itself." The editorial then quotes from the report:

Poverty Matters Most: A Comment on the Volcker Report

Today the Volcker Commission released a report with a set of recommendations about how the World Bank can strengthen its anti-corruption procedures by reforming its Department of Institutional Integrity. This is an important and timely conversation and the report will no doubt receive a high level of attention. But it is equally important that the Bank does not put corruption ahead of its central task—the alleviation of poverty.