Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

CGD in the News

August 8, 2017

A Bevy of Good Ideas on Foreign Aid Reform….If Anyone’s Listening (LobeLog)

From the article:

Recent reports by the co-chairs of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) and a task force of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) take the long view by proposing far-reaching structural reforms. Although the current administration is unlikely to embrace their recommendations, they offer a compelling vision and set a constructive tone for debate.

new paper by Jeremy Konyndyk and Cindy Huang of the Center for Global Development (CGD) opts for a different approach, adding to the mix a list of 14 smart, “immediately actionable reforms.” Although it also lays out options for major reorganization, most of the emphasis is on what could be done now to pave the way for future progress.

Half the proposed reforms involve changes that the administration could make without legislative approval. To the uninitiated they may sound abstruse, but they can be grouped under three general headings.

Read full article here.

July 28, 2017

In Trump's US Aid Shake-up, Advocates See a Window for Long-Sought Reforms (Devex)

From the article:

Others see an opportunity to caution the new administration against some of the sweeping changes it has reportedly entertained. Given widespread disagreement with the idea of merging USAID and the State Department, pursuing that plan would mean entering a costly fight the administration might not win. In lieu of that the White House might consider some smaller changes that could actually help achieve its stated goal of optimizing U.S. development programs, according to experts from the Center for Global Development.

“We wanted to make the point that there is a real agenda for constructive reform that doesn’t have to involve folding anyone into anyone else,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, a CGD senior fellow who directed foreign disaster assistance during the Obama administration.

“There’s been so much focus in the media and so much speculation and fear in the development community about a State-AID merger or other things in that vein. Our council here is, walk before you run on some of that,” Konyndyk said.

CGD’s proposal calls for organizing U.S. development around four core priorities: Fragile states, inclusive growth, global health, and humanitarian assistance. The authors also propose a set of 14 “immediately actionable reforms,” including building flexibility into USAID’s procurement system so it can respond faster in unstable environments and making the agency’s hiring mechanisms more “rational.”

“There might be big talk around huge reforms, [but] those require really big lift and previous attempts have not been successful,” said Cindy Huang, a CGD senior fellow who served at the Millennium Challenge Corp. and State Department.

“The piece that I think is targeted for this time is, what are the practical steps that we can take — not all easy, but relatively modest compared to other proposals that have been put out recently — that will ‘grease the skids’ or really have a chance at building momentum?” Huang added.

Read full article here.

July 28, 2017

Opinion: 4 Pragmatic Steps to Jump-Start Foreign Assistance Reform (Devex)

From the op-ed:

President Donald Trump and his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have embarked upon a time-honored tradition for new administrations: A government efficiency review. In the case of the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development, Tillerson has brought in outside consultants to conduct wide-ranging interviews with staff, and even produced “word clouds” to help suss out foreign affairs priorities.

The White House, State and USAID reviews have rightly emphasized addressing duplication and inefficiency. But rather than focusing on a State/USAID merger, as has been widely rumored, the administration should look at something that leads to some of the biggest duplications, triplications, and even quadruplications of capacity that exists in the U.S. government: The severe fragmentation of U.S. development assistance.

Writing as former senior officials in two of the government’s largest development agencies — USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation — we have seen this fragmentation first-hand. The biggest efficiency gap in the U.S. foreign affairs agencies is not the division between State and USAID — it is the diffusion of U.S. development aid’s goals and roles across twenty-some federal agencies and offices. State and USAID should remain separate and distinct — they have different missions, represent distinct professional disciplines and require different organizational cultures. But the development architecture is long overdue for realignment and consolidation. We have just released a paper laying out a path for doing this — starting with a set of immediately actionable reforms, and moving from there toward a more fundamental reorganization plan.

Read full op-ed here.