The aim of USAID’s ambitious reform agenda is to ensure the Agency is delivering measurable results. The reforms include a strengthened priority on country ownership of their own destiny to guarantee our contributions are sustainable, a robust monitoring and evaluation system, enhanced transparency, and stronger partnerships with the private sector.
We applaud the goals of USAID FORWARD to modernize and strengthen U.S. development programs, and while every indicator in the report is not perfect, the reforms are moving in the right direction. By measuring progress and evaluating programs, they are learning what needs to be done to adapt and meet the challenges in today’s rapidly changing world, even if that means cutting your losses and admitting that something isn’t working. That’s progress we can respect.
Our international affairs programs, like all government programs, should be evaluated to make sure they are delivering the intended results. Efforts such as the Foreign Assistance Dashboard do just that and allow taxpayers to see where their dollars are going, and if they are being spent wisely. This introduces a transparency that frankly all federal agencies should take a cue from.
The focus on innovations, science, and technology is to be commended as a critical way to lead to a cost-effective impact on communities and economies in the developing world. Take for example mobile banking, which reduces corruption by decreasing cash transactions and expands access to financial services. This allows hundreds of thousands of people to receive their salaries and transfer money with their fingertips in a safe, reliable way. And in Uganda, mobile phones are being used in rural health clinics to request emergency transport and track maternal and child mortality. This goes along with a shift we have seen in how we look at development.
From results-driven programming to leveraging the private sector, reforming the way we do development helps to drive innovative solutions to global challenges. But resting on laurels will bring us right back to the old ways, which is why we need to prioritize our efforts on what’s working and ensure the resources are in place to continue this commitment to reform. While we’re not there yet, our hats are off to the men and women of USAID for holding themselves and their work to a high standard to ensure we are delivering cost-effective results critical to building a better, safer world.
Lane is the director of International Governmental Affairs for Caterpillar and Miles is the president and CEO of Save the Children. They are co-presidents of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.