Elevating Development – Rhetoric, Reality, and Recommendations

EDITOR’S NOTE: How can the U.S. Congress elevate development? Connie Veillette of the Center for Global Development shares her recommendations. 

Last month, I released a new analysis on the Future of Aid Reform.  In it, I sought to judge to what extent the administration’s 2012 budget request reflected a strong commitment to the principles outlined in the PPD and QDDR, and to prognosticate on the congressional response.

On one major principle — elevating development — I argued that the administration had not scored well based on a number of indicators.  In brief I argued that 1) a national security budget is more rhetoric than reality; 2) development is losing ground relative to security; 3) requested amounts for key development accounts have stagnated; and 4) USAID has not been put fully in charge of development.

Some readers have suggested that I was too hard on one of the indicators, namely, the share of development in relation to security.  Here is the analysis.

In the above, I included the overseas contingency operations (OCO) request.  It was suggested that I should have done the calculations without OCO since it is geared more toward security.  As I noted in a footnote in the original paper, doing so does not show an increasing share for development, but rather stagnation (64.9 percent in 2012 versus 64.5 percent in 2010).

Regardless of how one crunches the numbers, I think the recommendations for both the administration and Congress on how to elevate development are relevant.

  • Submit a Unified National Security BudgetThe administration should separately present a 2013 national security budget so that the connections of a 3D approach are explained and defended. Congress should consider how diplomacy, development, and defense work together in support of foreign policy goals, and should not automatically privilege one over others.

  • Extend Period in which to Obligate FundsWithin the 3D framework budget, Congress should better appreciate the long-term nature of development by not expecting immediate results. Development accounts should be expanded from having to obligate all funds by the end of the fiscal year (one-year funds) to two-year or more accounts. This would allow for better planning and implementation and prevent scenarios where funds are obligated before projects are fully vetted in order to spend funds before the fiscal year ends.

  • Designate Lead Development AgencyThe administration should designate USAID as the government’s lead development agency, or abandon the whole-of-government framework. Having 26 agencies doing development work requires unified leadership if there is to be effective coordination and coherence to development policies. If USAID is the government’s lead development agency, then health programs should be managed by USAID, including GHI and PEPFAR.

*Note: The share of aid going for development includes the following accounts:  GHCS; DA; TI; CCF; 83.5% of ESF; DF; 76% of AEECA; MCC; Inter-American Foundation; African Development Fund; Treasury Technical Assistance; International Organizations and Programs; International Financial Institutions; OPIC; and Trade and Development Agency.

Republished with permission from the Center for Global Development. View original article.

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