Lancet Examines Efforts To Reform USAID

A Lancet World Report article examines the decision to restore USAID’s policy department as part of broader reform efforts at the agency. 

USAID Administrator Rajiv “Shah said that USAID will establish the new bureau and implement budget reforms shortly. Over the summer, he also expects to institute procurement reforms, update human resource management systems, and, later, implement improvements to monitoring and evaluation of programmes,” the journal reports, noting Shah’s recent remarks outlining the changes planned for USAID. Shah also, “said the agency will focus on building sustainable systems in line with the Millennium Development Goals, invest in country-owned models of development, and increase focus on technological innovations that can enhance living conditions,” Lancet reports.

According to the Lancet, the “slow pace” of the Obama administration’s planned changes for the agency “is frustrating many in the development community and on Capitol Hill. … Policy leaders are anxious for the U.S. government to rationalise and streamline foreign assistance.” Sarah Jane Staats, director of policy outreach for the Center for Global Development, said, “There’s certainly a worry that the window of opportunity for big reform is closing and the concern is that we may end up with more tinkering around the edges.” Richard Lugar (Ind.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “I would have hoped that things would have proceeded much more rapidly … Obviously, this has been a source of contention throughout the year.”

The article also examines how USAID changed during former President George W. Bush’s tenure (Bristol, 5/22).   

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