Posted: 2:08 pm PT
James M. Roberts is a research fellow for Economic Freedom and Growth in the Center for Free Markets and Regulatory Reform at The Heritage Foundation. His bio says that he previously served as a foreign service officer at the State Department for 25 years and worked closely with USAID. As a Foreign Service Officer, he completed tours of duty at U.S. embassies in Mexico, Portugal, France, Panama and Haiti. In an op-ed published on TheHill today, he writes that The Heritage Foundation will soon publish “a detailed background report with extensive analysis of the current dysfunctional state of U.S. government foreign assistance programs and detailed recommendations on how to fix them.” The op-ed includes highlights from that forthcoming report.
Excerpt via TheHill:
13 recommendations to reform U.S. foreign aid:
1. Eliminate duplicative foreign aid programs, improve coordination of remaining programs, end congressional “earmarks,” and terminate programs that do not work.
2. Replace USAID with a new “United States Health and Humanitarian Assistance Agency” (USHHAA) to manage all health and humanitarian assistance programs.
3. Fully integrate USHHAA into the State Department, with the USHHAA administrator reporting to the secretary of state as the under secretary of state for foreign assistance.
4. Merge State and USAID administrative functions in Washington and in the field. Put USAID’s Foreign Service Officers into a new “Assistance Cone” at State and consider more far-reaching reforms of the Foreign Service to give the U.S. government more flexibility to respond to future challenges.
5. Move all development assistance to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an independent agency that stresses the primary importance of the rule of law, effective governance, and recipient country accountability.
6. Transfer USAID’s Development Assistance account to the MCC and add the under secretary of state for foreign assistance to the MCC Board of Directors to better coordinate all U.S. foreign assistance.
7. Eliminate the under secretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights, and eliminate or move its offices, bureaus, and responsibilities to other parts of the State Department or to USHHAA.
8. Eliminate the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) and transfer policy responsibilities to the regional bureaus and the refugee assistance responsibilities to USHHAA.
9. Ensure that all other U.S. foreign aid programs at agencies as diverse as Justice, Interior, or Agriculture are coordinate and consult with the under secretary of state for foreign assistance. Technical or specialized assistance, such as responding to pandemics, should be led by the experts but coordination is critical to ensuring effective broader application of U.S. government resources.
10. End the role of the Department of Agriculture in food assistance by terminating the P.L. 480 program, with its inefficient shipping and purchase requirements. Give USHHAA full authority over all U.S. food assistance.
11. Eliminate outdated agencies such as the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the United States Trade and Development Agency, and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. These agencies were established in a world where private investment in developing countries was scarce. This is no longer the case. The focus should be to encourage developing countries to access these resources based on their policies, not send the message that government subsidies are necessary for development.
12. Re-designate the State Department’s Economic Support Fund account as the “Policy Goal Implementation Fund” with the express purpose of generating goodwill and support for U.S. foreign policy and security objectives, including promoting resilient, democratic, prosperous and secure societies around the world.
13. Better coordinate military and security assistance under the joint authority of the Departments of Defense and State.
Read the full piece here.
Other commentaries by Roberts include Why Trump’s Budget Proposal for the State Department Makes Sense; Trump Wants to Shut Down OPIC. Will His Nominee Do It?; Congress Should Support the Trump Administration’s Proposal to Close Down OPIC, and more here.