On July 25th, USAID and the State Department invited members of Accord Network, MFAN, and InterAction to participate in a fact finding and informational exchange meeting. Their goal was to gain input on ways to improve the organizations' efficiency and effectiveness.
The first of several sessions of its kind, USAID and State Department allowed 12-15 individuals from each network to attend and voice their concerns, submit structural ideas, and comment on proposed changes to the agency.
Accord Network brought in eight member organizations, including ADRA, Faith to Action, Food for the Hungry, Medical Teams, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, World Hope, World Relief, and World Vision. The focus of our members’ comments centered around three key issues:
The faith community is critical to helping the US Foreign policy apparatus achieve its goals, and needs to be prioritized.
Over the past decade, USAID has prioritized local partners on the ground, but have either worked with them directly, or have utilized a large contractor to manage the relationships. We encouraged the officials use the relationships that our members bring to the table.
Food for Peace is an effective program and should not be restructured.
The most interesting things we learned from the USAID and State Department leaders were:
This process is being led solely by staff.
There are six categories being looked at by teams of approximately 5-25 people each.
The process will be lengthy: The Redesign teams will submit to OMB in September, and OMB will have six months to review.
The specifics of the review will have “varying degrees of transparency.”
In my view, the most helpful comments from other participants were the need for the teams to be given a “North Star,” or overarching priority. Also the need to wrestle with the concept of “effectiveness” vs. “efficiency.”
Earlier this summer, Accord partnered with World Relief to produce a document that outlines ways that the the USG foreign aid apparatus could better work with FBOs in the areas of funding mechanisms and internal policies. This document was made available to the officials present following the meeting.
While the priorities and focuses of USAID and the State Department are at this point fairly embryonic, Accord is confident that our relationships and influence there are only growing, and that we will continue to be a part of the conversation moving forward. We are committed to representing the interests our members well to those in charge of restructuring USAID. Please let Jon or me know how we can better serve you in this way.