Modernizing Foreign Assistance for the 21st Century: An Agenda for the Next U.S. President

March 17, 2008

In today's world, foreign assistance is a vital tool for strengthening U.S. foreign policy and restoring American global leadership. Foreign policy experts on both sides of the political aisle now recognize the importance of strong foreign assistance programs. But they also recognize that our foreign assistance programs are out of date and badly in need of modernization. Recent new foreign assistance initiatives and increases in funding are a promising start, but they fall far short of what is needed to make our programs more effective in meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

In this new essay, adapted from a forthcoming CGD book The White House and the World: A Global Development Agenda for the Next U.S. President, CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet analyses the recent increases in funding and new organizational changes such as the MCC, PEPFAR, the growing role of the Department of Defense, and the F process. He then proposes a five-point strategy for modernizing U.S. foreign assistance: develop a National Foreign Assistance Strategy; create a new cabinet-level department for development policy; rewrite the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act; place a higher priority on multilateral assistance channels; and increase the quantity and improve the allocation of funding.

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