Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Foreign Aid Reform Introduced in the Senate

Bread for the World Urges Senators To Pass Initial Aid Reform Bill

Washington, DC, July 28, 2009—Bread for the World President Rev. David Beckmann urged members of the Senate to promptly pass a bill introduced today aimed at revitalizing the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The bipartisan bill -- the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 (S.1524) -- was introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN), and Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Corker (R-TN), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Jim Risch (R-ID).

“Revitalizing USAID is crucial to the overall reform of U.S. foreign assistance,” said Rev. Beckmann. “If the Obama Administration and Congress improve the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance, our dollars will do more good for decades to come.”

USAID was created to lead U.S. development efforts and was once the premier development agency in the world. However, after years of benign neglect and proliferating aid programs across the U.S. government, USAID has lost much of its professional capacity, expertise and authority.

The bill includes a formal statement that it is U.S. policy to promote global development, good governance, and the reduction of poverty and hunger. It contains provisions for restoring planning, policy, and evaluation capacities to USAID. It also lays out new transparency measures for U.S. foreign assistance.

Rev. Beckmann, who is also co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Aid Network, called for the immediate appointment of an administrator for USAID. He said that an administrator should be in place to provide a development perspective as the State Department institutes a quadrennial review and develops a blueprint for U.S. diplomatic and development efforts.

He cautioned that without a USAID administrator, the State Department’s review has the potential to blur the important distinction between diplomacy and development. “When we try to achieve development and diplomatic goals with the same dollars, aid is usually much less effective in reducing poverty,” said Rev. Beckmann.

The Senate bill introduced today complements the efforts of House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA-28) and his initial aid reform bill, H.R. 2139, which currently has 91 bipartisan cosponsors.

Rev. Beckmann added that the White House, the State Department, and USAID should work closely with the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in order to coordinate foreign aid reform efforts.

No comments: