The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2017
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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.