While U.S. foreign assistance efforts over the past 40 years have shown some remarkable successes, including efforts to promote children’s health in developing countries, there is also incoherence and inconsistency as numerous agencies run a variety of programs without a clear, overall strategy.
Members of Congress and the incoming Administration are undertaking efforts to modernize the system and develop a renewed strategy that will be increasingly efficient and effective. They recognize that foreign assistance is an important tool for addressing issues of poverty reduction, economic development, and national security. Several organizations have been invited to provide information and support in this process, and the US Coalition for Child Survival is among them, ensuring that they are informed about the needs and opportunities to save the lives of young children.
The information below includes initial materials about the reform process. Additional resources will be added as the process continues to develop over the next several months.
Congressional Statements on Reform
"It is painfully obvious to Congress, the Administration, foreign aid experts, and NGOs alike, that our foreign assistance program is fragmented and broken and in critical need of overhaul. I strongly believe that America's foreign assistance program is not in need of some minor changes, but, rather, it needs to be reinvented and retooled in order to respond to the significant challenges our country and the world faces in the 21st century....
"Next year, our committee intends to reform and rewrite the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. That bill has not been reauthorized since 1985. This antiquated and desperately overburdened legislation - over 500 pages long - doesn't adequately provide the flexibility and necessary authorities for our civilian agencies to tackle global extremism, poverty, corruption, and other threats to our long-term national security goals. As Congress and the next Administration come together on rewriting this legislation, we must give greater attention to core development programs, particularly basic education, child survival, maternal health, cultural exchanges, and agricultural development programs."
Representative Howard Berman
"Foreign Assistance Reform in the New Administration: Challenges and Solutions?"
Congressional hearing, April 23, 2008
(full opening remarks)
"In looking at U.S. foreign policy today, we should not look back to 1961, the year that the Agency for International Development was created, as if it was something of a Utopian age. It was simply a different age, with different circumstances. We certainly need to consider the evolution of our foreign aid programs, but we should also look abroad to see how other donor countries are addressing the developing challenges of this age at the start of the 21st century, as the title of today's hearing notes."
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
"Foreign Assistance Reform: Rebuilding U.S. Civilian Development and Diplomatic Capacity
in the 21st Century" - Congressional hearing, June 25, 2008
(full opening statement)
Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN)
MFAN is a reform coalition composed of international development and foreign policy practitioners, policy advocates and experts, concerned citizens and private sector organizations. MFAN's goal is to help build a safer, more prosperous world by strengthening the United States' ability to alleviate extreme poverty, create opportunities for growth, and secure human dignity in developing countries.
For More Information
• Foreign Assistance Reform: Rebuilding U.S. Civilian Development and Diplomatic Capacity in the 21st Century (transcript)
Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives
• New Day, New Way: U.S. Foreign Assistance for the 21st Century (pdf)
• Why the U.S. Needs A Cabinet-level Department for Global and Human Development (pdf)
• Proposed Major Components and Organization of a Cabinet-level Department for Global and Human Development (pdf)
• U.S. Foreign Assistance: Reform to Lead in the 21st Century
The Brookings Institution
• Video: Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) on Maternal and Child Health
Center for Strategic & Int'l Studies
• Modernizing Foreign Assistance - Insights from the Field: Ethiopia
Save the Children
• Modernizing Foreign Assistance - Insights from the Field: Malawi
Save the Children
• Whatâ€™s Next for the â€˜Fâ€™ Process?
• Crafting a 21st-Century Foreign Assistance Act: Q&A with Sheila Herrling
Center for Global Development