(MFAN) In an attempt to address the age-old deficiencies in the US government’s record of foreign aid, Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA) has called on his fellow representatives to look past their political differences to rewrite the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Berman, who is a Ranking Member in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, revealed such sentiments in a post to the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network blog on July 25.
“In this tight budget environment, one thing that can unite Democrats and Republicans is a commitment to make our foreign assistance programs more efficient and more effective” he notes in the entry. “We may have differing views on how much aid to provide and to which countries, but we should all agree to deliver aid in a way that reaches the intended beneficiaries and achieves its desired objectives,” he continues. While Berman admits that certain steps to improve the system have taken place including President Obama’s recent issuance of the Policy Directive on Global Development and the implementation of the Administrator Shah’s “USAID Forward” reform agenda, he emphasizes that the current act is outdated and unfitting for the country’s current political situation.
Berman explains, “It’s an architecture developed during the Cold War to address the problems of the 20th century. Furthermore, “All too often, new laws have been written to circumvent it entirely, exacerbating the problems of fragmentation, duplication, and lack of coordination.”
In light of this, the Congressman revealed in the post that he plans to release a discussion draft of his rewrite in September that should serve as a catalyst for change to the Act. “Although foreign assistance accounts for less than 1 percent of our national budget, we must insist that every penny is used wisely,” he concludes.