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Getting to a “Grand Bargain” for Aid Reform: The Basic Framework for U.S. Foreign Assistance

2/1/11
Jean Arkedis
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In this paper, Jean Arkedis focuses on understanding why long-term development is often subjugated to other objectives in the day-to-day planning processes of the U.S. government. She proposes one way to ensure that funding choices are made more rationally and systematically: by aligning the differing goals of aid more explicitly with redefined foreign assistance budget accounts.

Doing this would encourage the administration and Congress to set priorities while taking into account the tradeoffs, enable development proponents to defend programs with potential for long-term development results, and push the development community to better define ways to measure progress against those expected results.

Since this paper was originally drafted, the Obama administration has undertaken a major initiative to strengthen and reform U.S. foreign assistance, but aligning objectives and budgets as suggested here seem not to be on the agenda. Arkedis helps clarify the challenges that development, diplomatic, and defense officials face in improving the impact of the United States’ foreign assistance programs on its multiple foreign policy objectives.

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