In elevating the role of foreign aid in the U.S. government’s agenda, Larry Garber looks to Britain, which has ring-fenced its aid budget, as a model. The U.S. Agency for International Development’s deputy assistant administrator for Africa offered this anecdote to critics who argue that U.S. foreign aid reforms may face a roadblock in Congress amid budget cuts.
“I was in Sudan and a dinner was arranged with a senior official from [U.K. Department for International Development], the British foreign assistance agency, who was visiting at the same time. I asked how DfID was faring in the context of the steep budget cuts proposed by the new Conservative-Liberal government that we have been reading about in the newspapers. He replied that, much to his surprise, the new government has excluded DfID from the budget cuts and reaffirmed the government’s commitment to raise the percentage of development assistance as a proportion of [gross national product],” Garber said Nov. 18 at an event of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
He added: “Clearly, even a right-of-center British government understands that, in today’s world, you cannot short shrift development in addressing global concerns. The question is whether a similar argument will resonate in this country or whether the very impressive reform efforts now underway will stall in the face of a pre-occupation with cutting the budget.”
Garber reiterated the procurement and recruitment modifications mapped out under “USAID Forward,” the agency’s new reform agenda. USAID’s procurement reforms will promote the use of host country systems, build local capacity and foster harmonization with other donors.
“Our procurement reforms go well beyond what has been attempted before,” he said. “We have established specific benchmarks to measure our performance in implementing these and the other reforms mentioned.”