THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
With few exceptions, the next
administration should migrate
all assistance programs back
to USAID for implementation.
the confusing current arrangement under which the USAID
Administrator never knows until the last minute whether they
will be invited to NSC meetings. In its first National Security
Policy Directive, establishing the shape of the NSC, the next
administration should make it clear that USAID will be a regu-
lar attendee at NSC meetings whenever development, disaster
or crisis management topics are discussed.
6. Strengthen the partnership with Congress.
has a key role in making sure that our foreign assistance is
effective through its budgeting and authorization process.
Over the years Congress has added additional hoops that the
administration must jump through to implement programs,
forcing USAID to add steps to an already lengthy process.
Streamlining is needed. Other politically sensitive barriers
to effective foreign assistance need to be addressed, such as
standing up to the farm lobby and the American shipping
companies to move all food aid to cash and do away with
dumping commodities in countries (which has the risk of
ruining local markets and agricultural production).
Congress should be encouraged to reduce the practice of
earmarking funds for certain programs and countries. While,
for example, setting a high earmark for education may seem
like a great idea, the reality is that education is a popular target
for many other donor countries’ assistance monies. U.S. fund-
ing might be more needed in a particular country to deal with
inhumane prisons, or some other pressing need that typically
does not attract donor funding.
USAID needs to strengthen its Office of Legislative and
Public Affairs and not be so reticent about engaging with the
Hill. In dealing with Congress it is important not to overprom-
ise, to quickly admit mistakes and to be ready to brief on any
issue of concern at the drop of a hat. In my experience, staff
and members are reasonable, and once they know that there is
method to the perceived madness of the administration, they
are usually willing to go along.