CSIS Releases Report from Bipartisan Task Force on Reforming and Reorganizing U.S. Foreign Assistance

WASHINGTON: The Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) has completed its Bipartisan Task Force on Reforming and Reorganizing U.S. Foreign Assistance. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Todd Young (R-IN), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, cochaired the task force and endorsed the final report, available here.

The report launch will take place today at CSIS headquarters in Washington, D.C. at 2:00 p.m. and will be live streamed here.

“In just two months, the Task Force has produced a set of substantive, bipartisan recommendations for reforming and reorganizing U.S. foreign assistance,” Shaheen said. “It is my hope that our report can serve as the starting point for a broader, inclusive discussion about the future of the State Department and USAID, which in turn should inform the Trump administration’s efforts in this regard. Foreign assistance is critical to our national security and economic strength, and we cannot afford to get this wrong.”

“It was an honor to work with some of our nation’s leading development experts to produce a serious, bipartisan, and substantive report—worthy of consideration by Congress and the Trump administration—that can help guide necessary and overdue reform of U.S. government development assistance,” said Senator Young.

The task force consists of former Bush administration and Obama administration officials, as well as retired senior Foreign Service officers of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department, former ambassadors, and former members of the National Security Council staff. There were nearly 30 signatories to the final report.

The task force was convened by Daniel F. Runde, director of the CSIS Project on U.S. Leadership in Development, who said: “The task force members believe that the Trump administration is right to seek greater efficiency and effectiveness in our foreign assistance system but that aid is vital to the United States’ national interest. Development, enabled by assistance, will ultimately save American lives, help grow American export markets, and build new partners to maintain global stability.”

The Trump administration, in partnership with Congress, has an opportunity for bold reform—meaningful change that has eluded previous administrations—that recognizes the benefits of foreign assistance to the United States and our partner countries, aligns structure with goals, and ultimately leaves a lasting positive legacy at home and abroad. The task force identified actionable recommendations that the Trump administration and the U.S. Congress can use to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of U.S. foreign assistance.

To effectively reorganize and reform U.S. foreign assistance, the task force recommends the following:

Recommendation 1: Maintain USAID as an independent agency overseeing federal foreign assistance efforts, develop a clearly articulated development strategy, and assign the USAID administrator as coordinator of foreign assistance.

Recommendation 2: Address duplication of effort and generate budget savings while maintaining functional coherence when appropriate.

Recommendation 3: Modernize the personnel system, make the procurement system more efficient, and streamline reporting.