Does everyone hate the United States Agency for International Development? No, but Elizabeth Cutler, writing at the Stimson Center’s Budget Insight blog, says dysfunction at USAID would probably result from such hate if it existed. A myriad of factors, including lack of support and directly from Congress and the White House and continuing debate over the the utility and effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance, continue to hold back the ability, efficiency, and ultimately the impact of USAID and the rest of development programming.
Policymakers have conflicting views about U.S. foreign assistance. Questions persist, including: How much does foreign assistance actually accomplish? Should foreign aid goals always align with U.S. national security priorities? Should the U.S. military be involved in foreign assistance programs? If so, how much? What is the actual meaning of “democracy assistance” in the 21stcentury?
Disagreements have led to workarounds like the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) that intensify the diaspora of foreign assistance rather than solve the essential problems plaguing USAID. Rather than strengthening USAID to work more effectively and efficiently, we have instead dispersed foreign assistance programs across 12 departments, 25 agencies and nearly 60 government offices. This fragmented structure reduces effectiveness and causes duplication, both of which are often cited by Congress when it slashes funding for development.