A staff from the USAID-funded Securing Rights to Land and Natural Resources for Biodiversity and Livelihood in the Northeast Coast project reviews a map of natural resources at the Aweer community of Lamu in Kenya. Photo by: U.S. Agency for International Development / CC BY-NC

The United States has an important leadership role to play when it comes to supporting development and reducing poverty around the world.

Foreign assistance serves our national interests by enhancing national security, expanding global economic opportunities and promoting American values. In 2008, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network was established because of the growing recognition that U.S. foreign assistance and development policy needed to be strengthened and modernized in order to confront today’s challenges and bring about a more peaceful and prosperous world.

Since MFAN’s founding, we have seen the administration and Congress take actions to improve development policy and practice, and make U.S. assistance dollars work smarter. On April 16, with the launch of our new policy paper “The way forward: A reform agenda for 2014 and beyond,” we both reflect on past achievements and humbly recognize there is much more work to be done.

MFAN’s new agenda outlines two powerful and mutually reinforcing pillars of reform: accountability through transparency, evaluation and learning; and country ownership of the priorities and resources for, and implementation of, development. These pillars are vital to building capacity in developing countries to enable leaders and citizens to take responsibility for their own development.

We applaud the many actions that have already been taken or put in motion to advance accountability and country ownership. For the Obama administration, these include the commitment to fully implement the International Aid Transparency Initiative, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Partnership for Growth and Local Solutions initiatives, and the Millennium Challenge Corp.’s commitment to transparency reflected by its top ranking on the 2013 Aid Transparency Index.

Congress has also taken up the reform cause with the creation of the Congressional Caucus on Effective Foreign Assistance, the introduction and reintroduction of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, and recent efforts to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of international food aid.

The next two years are an important window of opportunity for U.S. aid reform. The midterm elections in 2014 are certain to shake up the membership of Congress. In 2015, the Millennium Development Goals will expire and a new global development agenda will take its place. And 2016 will bring with it the end of the Obama administration.

We urge the administration and Congress to work together to institutionalize the important reforms that have already been introduced and continue to push forward on strengthening country ownership and accountability. We will be tracking progress made on the key reform actions we outline in the paper and sharing our thoughts with the community, the administration, and Congress.

We invite — and look forward to — the dialogue that these recommendations will generate.

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The views in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect Devex's editorial views.

About the authors

  • George Ingram

    George Ingram is a senior fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution, and co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. Previously, Ingram was professional staff of the House Committee on Foreign affairs and deputy assistant administrator at USAID.
  • Carolyn Miles

    Carolyn Miles is president and CEO of Save the Children and co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network. After starting out as an entrepreneur and working in Hong Kong for American Express, Miles joined Save the Children in 1998 and was also COO from 2004-2011.
  • Connie Veillette

    Connie Veillette is a senior fellow for global food security and aid effectiveness at The Lugar Center and co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network.