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CGD seeks to inform the US government’s approach to international development by bringing evidence to bear on questions of “what works” and proposing reforms to strengthen US foreign assistance tools.
The policies and practices of the US government wield formidable influence on global development. CGD seeks to strengthen US foreign assistance tools with evidence of “what works” and propose reforms grounded in rigorous analysis across the full range of investment, trade, technology and foreign assistance related issues. With high-level US government experience and strong research credentials, our experts are sought out by policymakers for practical ideas to enhance the US’s leading role in promoting progress for all.
Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has vowed a major overhaul of U.S. foreign assistance. He joins a growing list of members of Congress and the defense, diplomacy and development community who recognize that U.S. foreign assistance programs are badly in need of modernization to meet 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 offers a blueprint to align U.S. foreign assistance with American values and foreign policy goals: 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.
The SAIS International Development Program and the SAIS Center for International Business and Public Policy will host a discussion by two leading critics of the HELP Commission Report on U.S. foreign assistance that was submitted to the President and Congress in December 2007. Leo Hindery, Vice Chairman of the Commission, has co-authored with Jeff Sachs and Gayle Smith, an "alternative" view to the Commission's final report entitled "Revamping Foreign Assistance;" Nancy Birdsall, President of the Center for Global Development (and a distinguished SAIS alumnus), has been an outspoken advocate for a new Cabinet-level "Department for International Sustainable Development." Roger Leeds, SAIS Professor and Director of the School's Center for International Business and Public Policy, will moderate the discussion by these two leading proponents of a more assertive U.S. development assistance program than recommended in the HELP Commission Report.
With President Bush's trip to Africa making headlines this week, CGD senior fellow Steve Radelet and research assistant Sami Bazzi offer a close look at the latest U.S. foreign assistance numbers. Bottom line: although America's aid has more than doubled since 2000, the new money went mostly to Iraq, Afghanistan and a small number of debt relief operations; and almost all was allocated through bilateral rather than multilateral channels. Assistance to Africa more than quadrupled from $1.5 billion in 1996 to $6.6 billion in 2006 and has been enormously important in funding humanitarian relief and HIV/AIDS programs. But even with the increases, U.S. assistance to Africa still averages less than $9 per African per year. And U.S. assistance for Africa has become less selective: since 2000 the shares going to the poorest countries and to the best-governed countries have fallen.
In her first major speech since being confirmed by Congress, USAID Administrator and Director of Foreign Assistance Henrietta Holsman Fore will deliver a keynote speech on the importance of elevating global development and reforming U.S. foreign assistance to meet our foreign policy and national interest priorities. She will review progress made to date in modernizing our foreign assistance policies and practices as well as roll out her ambitious reform agenda for the coming year. Following her remarks, a panel of legislative, foreign policy, and foreign assistance experts will discuss the challenges, opportunities and political realities of modernizing the fragmented U.S. assistance apparatus for the tasks of the 21st century.
The recent creation of AFRICOM, a U.S. military command for Africa, is but one manifestation of the Pentagon's growing role in development. One-in-five dollars that the U.S. spends on development assistance is now handled by the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Pentagon share of U.S. development spending has increased three-fold in the past five years, to some $5.5 billion annually. In a new CGD working paper, research fellow Stewart Patrick and program associate Kaysie Brown find that while the vast bulk of Pentagon development aid is for Iraq and Afghanistan, the department is also increasingly involved in new initiatives that civilian agencies could undertake. They warn that DoD's growing role in foreign assistance could undermine a broader U.S. approach to development support, and they offer specific recommendations for restoring a more appropriate balance.
The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) provides more than $5 billion per year to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS. Exactly how is that money spent? Donors, recipients, and even PEPFAR staff are often left guessing, because much of the extensive data the U.S. government collects on the program isn't released. In this new CGD note, Michael Bernstein and Sarah Jane Staats (Hise) urge the U.S. Congress to require that PEPFAR regularly release this data. They argue that this would improve coordination between PEPFAR and other donors, help PEPFAR staff assess progress and hold recipients accountable, and increase cost-effectiveness. Some of the data will soon be available anyway: CGD's HIV/AIDS Monitor is preparing to release PEPFAR funding data for Fiscal Years 2004-2006 obtained by a partner organization through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The launch of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) holds the promise of being a watershed event in the history of U.S. foreign assistance. This paper discusses how should aid be delivered, once eligibility is determined, to ensure it is as effective as possible in supporting growth and development in recipient countries.
This note reviews the President’s 2005 international affairs budget request and offers insight into the potential MCA allocations in the context of the broader development assistance budget. The authors note that requested funding for the MCA is lower than promised and may be indirectly coming at the expense of existing development assistance programs.