July 28, 2009

Kerry, Lugar, Menendez, Corker Introduce Legislation To Reform Foreign Aid

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Dick Lugar (R-IN), along with Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bob Corker (R-TN) today introduced legislation aimed at initiating the foreign aid reform process. Senators James Risch (R-ID) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), also members of the Committee, joined as original cosponsors.

The Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009, S.1524, is an important first step toward comprehensive foreign aid reform. It will ensure that the United States is appropriately equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century. More importantly, the legislation focuses on increasing the capacity of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to deliver effective and accountable programsand the broader capacity of all our foreign aid programs.

"I believe this legislation will go a long way toward improving our immediate ability to deliver foreign aid in a more accountable, thoughtful and strategic manner," said Chairman Kerry. "We need cutting edge programs that will push the envelope on ending chronic poverty, combating global climate change, reducing hunger, supporting democracies, and offering alternatives to extremism."

"The issues that we face today - from chronic poverty and hunger to violent acts of terrorism - require that we work seamlessly toward identifiable goals. The U.S. has increased development funding and elevated its priority. Yet USAID has been allowed to atrophy. Many new programs are located outside USAID in roughly two dozen departments and agencies. We don't really know whether these programs are complementary or working at cross-purposes," Lugar said. "Our bill seeks to better evaluate programs, improve coordination among agencies and enhance staff development and training," said Ranking Member Dick Lugar.

"Our investments in foreign assistance are investments in our own economic and national security," said Menendez, Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs, and International Environmental Protection. "Over the years, foreign assistance has been pulled in too many directions. This reform initiative is a way to help focus our programs in a smarter and more effective way. This will help the U.S. contribute to greater stability and prosperity both around the world and here at home."

"I've been able to see our foreign assistance dollars in action and am proud of the role we play in producing positive change in the lives of millions around the world," said Senator Corker, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance. "At the same time I share the frustration of many Americans that our foreign assistance efforts have often lacked transparency, coordination, monitoring and evaluation. This bill begins to reinvigorate USAID to improve the coordination, execution and efficiency of U.S. assistance so we can make each dollar go farther. The bill also establishes a body capable of evaluating the impact of our investments to make sure we are truly meeting our foreign policy objectives."

The Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009:

  • restores strategic thinking to USAID by reestablishing a bureau for policy and strategic planning;
  • calls for strengthening the coordination of U.S. foreign aid in the field under the guidance of the USAID mission director;
  • increases accountability and transparency of U.S. foreign aid programs by establishing an independent Council in the executive branch - the Council on Research and Evaluation of Foreign Assistance (CORE) - to objectively evaluate the impact and results of all development and foreign aid programs undertaken by the U.S. Government;
  • strengthens personnel at USAID by mandating a comprehensive review of all aspects of human resources and establishing a high-level task force to advise on critical personnel issues.