A man inspects relief supplies from the U.S. Agency for International Development. USAID should be given more resources instead of being subjected to budget cuts, say its former administrators. Photo by: Leah Stiles / USAID

As former administrators of the U.S. Agency for International Development called for more resources for the agency instead of subjecting it to budget cuts, the chairwoman of the House appropriations subcommittee for foreign and state operations restated in an e-mail to Devex July 16 the approval of a nearly 4 percent increase in the foreign assistance budget for fiscal 2011.

Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said she recognizes the importance of U.S. foreign assistance. In her e-mail, she explained:

“Diplomacy and development – along with defense – are the critical pillars of our nation’s national security policy. Helping people around the world achieve a more secure, stable, healthy, and educated society is the right thing to do, and it increases our own security. The FY 2011 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill as reported by the Subcommittee would provide an increase of nearly 4 percent over the 2010 enacted level.”

Lowey’s subcommittee approved June 30 a U.S. foreign assistance budget for fiscal 2011. The budget is about USD4 billion above the enacted level in fiscal 2010 but also USD4 billion less than President Barack Obama’s USD56.7 billion request.

The chairwoman’s response comes after the publication of an opinion piece that former USAID Administrators J. Brian Atwood, Henrietta Holsman Fore, M. Peter McPherson and Andrew Natsios wrote for the Huffington Post.

“We recognize that Congress is faced with agonizing choices – and many competing priorities – on the budget front,” they said. “However, cuts to the International Affairs budget will only weaken USAID and other agencies that make vital contributions to global development and our national security.”

The former administrators stressed that USAID needs resources to rebuild its personnel capacity, which they said is necessary to fulfill Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s vision to make USAID “the premier development agency in the world.”

Foreign Assistance Reforms

The four former USAID administrators also argued that resources are needed to support planned U.S. foreign assistance reforms.

“With White House and State Department development reviews under way, we believe USAID will be fortified, securing development as the essential third pillar of our foreign policy, alongside diplomacy and defense. But reform and revitalization can only go so far without resources.”

The former officials also urged U.S. President Barack Obama to fill vacant leadership positions at USAID.

This appeal echoes a previous call from InterAction, a coalition of U.S.-based development and humanitarian organizations.

As Devex reported, InterAction sent an open letter to Obama where it expressed “very serious concern” over the number of top-level vacancies at USAID.

About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.