More Than 100 Endorsers Agree: Effectiveness Principles Should Guide Foreign Aid Reform

By , Communications and Advocacy Associate

* From the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN), a proud partner of VEGA.

Reforms to U.S. foreign assistance should be conducted jointly by Congress and the Administration — in consultation with the development community—and guided by these principles, a comprehensive review of U.S. efforts, and a coherent Global Development Strategy.

Foreign assistance is vital to advancing U.S. interests – promoting security, economic opportunity, and our moral values – by helping to protect human dignity and ensure that countries can meet the needs of their people.

Structural Requirements

The following features are critical to making U.S. development more effective, efficient, and accountable:

  • An independent lead aid agency. The U.S. should have an independent lead aid agency that is headed by a Cabinet-rank official. It should be exclusively focused on global development and humanitarian response for the U.S. Government.
  • Strong policy, planning, and budget authority. The lead aid agency should be empowered to conduct its own policy, planning, and field-based analysis to support long-lasting economic growth and development.
  • Accountable, transparent, and efficient functions. All agencies should have the capacity to evaluate programs, the flexibility to reduce duplication when needed, and the ability to reinforce success by scaling up best practices.
  • Selective and focused presence. Aid should be focused on countries with the greatest need and where aid can do the most good. As conditions in countries change, the nature of our assistance and field presence should change with it.
  • Sufficient resources. Sufficient resources should be allocated for technical, sector, and geographic expertise to support U.S. aid programs.

Principles of U.S. Foreign Assistance

To maximize effectiveness and efficiency, U.S. foreign assistance should be carried out by agencies that follow these basic principles:

  1. Foreign assistance structures should uphold diplomacy and development as distinct but equal.
  2. Foreign assistance should help create the conditions under which it is no longer necessary.
  3. Foreign assistance should be focused on countries where the need is greatest or where it can have the most impact.
  4. Foreign assistance should be transparent and accountable to American taxpayers and local stakeholders.
  5. Foreign assistance should tap the best practices in development across the U.S. Government and international partners.

For the full principles and an up-to-date list of endorsements, visit


G. William Anderson, School of Public and International Affairs, Virginia Tech University Gregory Adams
J. Brian Atwood, Dean, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota; Former Administrator, USAID
Rev. David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute
Rodney Bent, Former Government Official
The Honorable Howard Berman, Former Member U.S. House of Representatives; MFAN Honorary Co-Chair
Eric Bjornlund, President, Democracy International
Letitia Butler, Co-Chair, USAID Alumni Association Board
Sean Callahan, President & CEO, Catholic Relief Services
Ann Mei Chang, Former Executive Director, U.S. Global Development Lab, USAID
Samantha Custer, Director of Policy Analysis, AidData at the College of William & Mary
Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Council on Foreign Relations
Helene Gayle, President Emeritus, CARE
Alan Hudson, Executive Director, Global Integrity
George Ingram, Senior Fellow, Brookings; MFAN Co-Chair
The Honorable Jim Kolbe, Former Member U.S. House of Representatives; MFAN Honorary Co-Chair
James Kunder, Principal, Kunder-Reali Associates; Former Acting Deputy Administrator, USAID
Bill Lane, Caterpillar Retired
Ben Leo, Visiting Fellow, Center for Global Development; CEO,
The Honorable Richard G. Lugar, Former Member U.S. Senate; MFAN Honorary Co-Chair
Peter McPherson, President, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; Former Administrator, USAID
Carolyn Miles, President & CEO, Save the Children
Scott Morris, Director, US Development Policy Initiative, Center for Global Development
Rob Mosbacher, Former President & CEO, OPIC
Les Munson, Former Staff Director, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Andrew S. Natsios, Former Administrator, USAID
John Norris, Executive Director, Sustainable Security and Peacebuilding Initiative, Center for American Progress
Larry Nowels, Independent Consultant
Michelle Nunn, President & CEO, CARE
Raymond C. Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America
Diana Ohlbaum, Independent Consultant
John Oldfield, CEO, Water 2017 Sally Paxton, U.S. Representative, Publish What You Fund
Carol Peasley, Independent Consultant; Former Senior Foreign Service Officer, USAID
Steve Radelet, Director, Global Human Development Program, Georgetown University
David Ray, President, CARE Action
William S. Reese, CEO, International Youth Foundation
Tessie San Martin, President & CEO, Plan International; MFAN Co-Chair
Liz Schrayer Asif Shaikh, President & CEO, PaxTerra
Ritu Sharma, Director, Global Center for Gender & Youth, International Youth Foundation
Gayle Smith, CEO, ONE; Former Administrator, USAID
Donald Steinberg, CEO, World Learning; Former USAID Deputy Administrator
Jeffrey L. Sturchio, President & CEO, Rabin Martin
Beth C. Tritter, Former Vice President for Policy and Evaluation, Millenium Challenge Corporation
Connie Veillette, Senior Fellow, Global Food Security and Aid Effectiveness, The Lugar Center; MFAN Co-Chair


1,000 Days
Alliance to End Hunger
Basic Education Coalition
Berkeley Research Group, Government Contracts and Grants Practice
Better World Campaign
Bread for the World
Catholic Relief Services
Center for International Policy
Chemonics International
ChildFund International
Common Defense
Congressional Hunger Center
Democracy International
Development Gateway
Development InfoStructure
Dexis Consulting Group
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
EnCompass LLC
FHI 360
Foreign Policy for America
Global Citizen
Global Health Council
Global Health Technologies Coalition
Global Human Development Program, Georgetown University
School of Foreign Service
Global Integrity
Global Progressive Hub
Global Women’s Institute
International Center for Research on Women
International Fund for Animal Welfare
International Rescue Committee
International Youth Foundation
IntraHealth International
Land O’Lakes International Development
Management Sciences for Health
Mercy Corps
Millennium Water Alliance
Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network
Mulhauser and Associates
NCD Child
Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) Roundtable
Plan International USA
Professional Services Council
Project Concern International
Radcliffe Global Solutions
Results for Development
RTI International
Save the Children
Social Impact
Society for International Development, Washington Chapter
Sonjara, Inc.
The Borgen Project
The Hunger Project
The Lugar Center
Training Resources Group, Inc.
Truman Center for National Policy
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights
USAID Alumni Association
Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance
Wildlife Conservation Society
Women Thrive Alliance
World Learning
World Wildlife Fund