Offenheiser: Now is the Time for Broad US Aid Reform

Raymond C. Offenheiser is urging the Obama administration to develop a national strategy for global development, a master plan to improve what he considers a structure in disarray.

“If you were to try to draw out a diagram of the U.S. government’s toolkit for fighting global poverty, you would quickly find yourself submerged in a spaghetti bowl of confused and conflicting responsibilities, mandates and authorities, with no clear goals, and no shared vision,” the Oxfam America president says in an op-ed for Foreign Policy. “This confusion on paper leads to confusion on the ground, with very real costs for U.S. foreign policy and the world’s poor.”

The strategy that Offenheiser proposes goes beyond foreign aid. It would also consider the impact of other global policies such as trade and migration on development and link global development and humanitarian efforts to U.S. national interests. He also suggests that the strategy would provide a guiding mission for the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.

The strategy, he adds, would articulate the logic for how agencies should interact with each other, allowing them to contribute their particular strengths toward a clear, shared goal of cutting global poverty. That achievement, he says, would amount to a legacy.

The Obama administration, he says, cannot lose more time to come up such a plan.

“Now is the time for the Obama administration to step back from simply stirring the spaghetti and finally articulate a strategic vision for how the United States will fight global poverty,” he concludes.

About the author

  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino is an associate editor for Devex and leads the company's news team in Manila. She played a critical role in conceptualizing the Development Newswire. Prior to joining Devex in 2004, she has already published articles and news briefs for Internet media organizations and for the Institute for Ethics and Economic Policy at Fordham University in New York. She earned her bachelor's in political science and master's in public affairs from the University of the Philippines. Eliza is a member of Mensa Philippines.