U.S. Development Policy Proposal Lauded by Anti-Poverty Group

Anti-poverty group Bread for the World has lauded a recent report from the White House which revealed a new directive from the Obama administration to make global development a "central pillar" of U.S. foreign policy.

The draft document, "A New Way Forward on Global Development," which was leaked to the media on Monday, says that the Obama Administration "recognizes that the successful pursuit of development is essential to our security, prosperity, and vales" and promises a "new approach to global development that focuses our government on the critical task of helping to create a world with more prosperous and democratic states."

Three major pillars are rooted in the proposed plan, including placing a premium on broad-based economic growth and democratic governance, taking a business approach that positions the United States to be a more effective partner and leverages its leadership, and using a coordinated model that promotes policy coherence and elevates development as a key pillar of U.S. foreign policy.

"We like what we have seen so far and we look forward to a final document that makes poverty reduction a key component of a national global development strategy that provides a coordinated, accountable business model to effectively engage in development policy," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World and co-chair of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network.

Another major proposal in the draft includes moving the responsibility for coordinating U.S. policy on development from the State Department to an interagency "development policy committee," which would report directly to the president.

The recommendation has sparked tensions between the National Security Council (NSC) and the State Department, who are reportedly resolute about keeping oversight of development works within their boundaries, but has drawn support from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, headed by John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who said that the current systems for evaluating the U.S.'s development work are ineffective.

"We need a better way to evaluate which development programs work, which have minimal impact, and what factors determine success or failure. Our current system is unable to provide this analysis," a committee fact sheet on the bill reads. "This evaluation group would be based in the executive branch, but it would operate independently under the auspices of an interagency board."

The draft further proposes giving more authority and independence to USAID, the government's humanitarian vehicle, saying that the group should have the "responsibility and accountability for a core development and humanitarian assistance budget" as well as a "mandate, where appropriate, to lead U.S. government development efforts in the field."

Rev. Beckmann added that his group hopes "this vision from the White House will reestablish the United States as the leader in international development."

The State Department will be considering the proposal as a part of their wholesale policy review, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which is expected to release an interim report soon.

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