Ideas to Action:

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CGD in the News

August 18, 2017

US Budget Cuts Could Weaken Global Fight Against AIDS (The Borgen Project Blog)

From the article:

Though the proposed budget would uproot U.S. efforts in the global fight against AIDS, political analysts have predicted that Congress will fight to reduce these cuts. PEPFAR has bipartisan support and the Republican majority considers it a party accomplishment due to its enactment by President George W. Bush. The National Institutes of Health have also recently gained bipartisan support with both Republicans and Democrats supporting greater funding.

Although the Trump administration’s cuts will likely be reduced by Congress, advocates worry that the proposed cuts will keep these programs from operating at their current levels. “I have no doubt Congress will succeed in restoring some level of funding,” says Scott Morris, director of the U.S. Development Policy Initiative at the Center for Global Development. “But it strikes me as an insurmountable lift to get back to the level of funding these programs currently enjoy.”

Read full article here.

August 13, 2017

With Budget Cuts Looming, US Aid Chief Vows To Do More With Less (Reuters)

From the article:

Facing potentially deep budget cuts to U.S. foreign aid, new USAID administrator Mark Green says he needs to do more with less and prove to President Donald Trump that development assistance can further his "America First" agenda...

But U.S. foreign assistance has traditionally garnered bipartisan support in Congress, which controls the aid purse strings. Green has stronger relations with lawmakers than his predecessors, who battled Congress on funding and objectives.

"What's very different for Mark Green is that his strongest allies are on the Hill," said Scott Morris, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington. "Where he faces headwinds are with both the White House and the State Department."

"There is a real potential for conflicts in basic philosophy about what USAID does," added Morris.

Green is nevertheless sanguine about prospects for a downsized, budget-constrained USAID.

"We can't do everything," he said. "The resources are limited, so we have to prioritize."

Read full article here.

August 11, 2017

The Portfolio Model of Foreign Assistance (Foreign Affairs)

From the op-ed:

By Alicia Phillips Mandaville, Vice President for Global Development at InterAction, and Senior Associate with the Project on Prosperity and Development at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She was formerly Chief Strategy Officer for the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

In the first half of this year, U.S. President Donald Trump [1]’s administration began to call for reform of the various agencies, offices, and programs that provide U.S. foreign assistance. In response, the foreign policy community produced several structural bureaucratic proposals. Organizations such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies [2], the Center for Global Development [3], and the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network [4], as well as coalitions like InterAction [5] and the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid [6]all made various recommendations, ranging from the immediate incremental step of a multilateral foreign assistance review to a fundamental redesign that would integrate all smaller agencies into a single US global development structure.

If the United States wants to maximize the value of its foreign aid [7], it needs a fresh paradigm that supports the purpose of foreign assistance, acknowledges the aspects of international aid that it can alter through structural change, and acknowledges that there are global or market forces that remain beyond Washington’s control.

Read full op-ed here.

August 9, 2017

5 Quotes From The Head Of USAID On His First Day On The Job (NPR Goats & Soda)

From the article:

Mark Andrew Green, the new head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, kicked off his first day on the job with a speech to hundreds of employees. In his speech on Monday, he focused on what they can expect from him and his vision for USAID...

The Trump administration has proposed cutting international aid by nearly a third — a move that "would be really debilitating to the agency," Jeremy Konyndyk told NPR's Jason Beaubien in May. Konyndyk, former head of USAID's Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, is now a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development.

The challenge for Green: trimming programs without gutting them, Konyndyk says.

"That's going to be a critical early test," Konyndyk says.

But Konyndyk isn't worried about how Green will handle this challenge.

"I wouldn't foresee him being someone jumping into this job with an eye toward deconstructing USAID or making debilitating cuts to U.S. development investment," Konyndyk told NPR.

Read full article here.

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.

August 3, 2017

Senate Confirms New USAID Administrator Mark Green (Reuters)

From the article:

The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed former congressman Mark Green as President Donald Trump's choice to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development at a time the administration is proposing cuts in foreign aid and a reorganization of the agency...

Green's appointment has been widely applauded by development experts and aid groups.

"Green's confirmation is a sign of hope that if we are entering a period of triage when it comes to many USAID programs, we will at least have a responsible actor overseeing this difficult and fraught process, and hopefully one who will stand firm on behalf of his agency's critical mission," said Scott Morris, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and a former U.S. Treasury official.

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.

July 20, 2017

House Committee Approves Foreign Aid Budget in Late-Night Session (Devex)

From the article:

On Wednesday, the United States House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations approved a U.S. foreign affairs budget bill that would cut funding to the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, and other international agencies and organizations by $10 billion.

The prolonged “markup” debate, which lasted until just before midnight, gave representatives a chance to propose and debate amendments to the State and Foreign Operations budget bill that had passed through a House subcommittee last week. Nearly all the amendments aimed at restoring funding or rolling back policy restrictions — most of them offered by minority Democrats — were defeated...

Scott Morris, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and director of its U.S. Development Policy Initiative, described the House funding levels as “very troubling” though unlikely to pass in the final legislation.

“[It] shows that there's a branch of government even less multilateralist than the Trump administration,” he said.

Morris warned the overall forecast for the World Bank and other multilateral development banks looks grim under the current administration. Even if the Senate does increase the World Bank’s allocation from the figure agreed by the House, Morris said the “bigger worry” is that Senators could still fail to restore funding levels to the multilateral development banks more broadly, which are set to receive a 20 percent trim in core funding under the Trump budget proposal.

The best outcome for the World Bank would be a continuing resolution, Morris said. Though even this could cause complications, since certain contributions, such as U.S. funding to IDA, require authorizations, which he said would be unlikely to be included.

“With China offering the rest of the world new options for MDB financing through the [Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank], it's a particularly bad time for the U.S. to be dramatically scaling back its support for the World Bank [and other multilateral development banks],” Morris said.

Read full article here.

July 17, 2017

Estados Unidos Redujo La Inmigración Legal Anteriormente en La Historia: Los Salarios No Subieron (El Diario)

Del artículo:

Entre los años cincuenta y principios de los años sesenta, el gobierno de Estados Unidos decidió expulsar una tercera parte de los mexicanos que trabajaban legalmente en los campos y acabar con el llamado “programa Bracero”, prometiendo así que esto crearía “más trabajos y mejores salarios” para los estadounidenses.

Similarmente, el gobierno del Presidente Trump y una iniciativa de senadores republicanos que inicia su curso ante el Congreso, pretende recortar a la mitad la cantidad de inmigrantes legales que recibe este país con la misma promesa.

“Tenemos que ser más cuidadosos con respecto a quien aceptamos en este país, de manera que en vez de perjudicar a los trabajadores estadounidenses, los ayudemos”, dijo una portavoz del Senador Tom Cotton.

El problema, según el economista Michael Clemens, del Centro para Estudios Globales, es que nunca nadie se molestó en verificar que aquella promesa fue cierta, y que sí hubo mejores salarios y más trabajos para los americanos después de que los braceros fueron expulsados.

Pero Clemens y otros dos científicos de Darmouth College y de la organización Center for Global Development fueron a los archivos de la biblioteca presidencial Eisenhower, el presidente que presidió la llamada “Operación Espalda Mojada” (Operation Wetback).

Leer el artículo aquí.