Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign AidHenrietta H. Fore, Acting Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and Acting USAID Administrator
Remarks to attendees at the public meeting of the Advisory Committee on Voluntary Foreign Aid
October 24, 2007
Thank you, John, for your kind introduction. First, let me welcome two new members to the ACVFA, Dr. Carol Adelman with the Hudson Institute and Dr. Helene Gayle with CARE.
Carol is a friend and colleague of mine when we served at USAID in the 1990's. She is an expert on resource flows to the developing world and a source of wisdom about what really works in development. This is not the first time we have called on Carol to advise USAID since she left the Agency. In addition, Carol has graciously agreed to serve as ACVFA's new Vice Chair.
Dr. Helene Gayle is President and CEO of CARE USA. Prior to assuming her current position, she was director of the HIV, Tuberculosis, and Reproductive Health Program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr. Gayle's accomplishments in public health and dedication to social service make her ideally suited for assuming a position on the ACVFA. And while Dr. Gayle could not join us today, I would like to thank her and Dr. Adelman, who is with us, for their willingness to serve.
Since the ACVFA's last public meeting in May, I have received periodic updates on the Committee working groups. In July, I met with representatives from the ACVFA to discuss the final recommendations for economic growth, governing justly and democratically, and implementation mechanisms. I would like to thank the group leaders: Ted Weihe, Aaron Williams, and Ken Wollack, as well as their fellow members for their hard work and dedication. I appreciate their thoughtful insights and suggestions on strengthening USAID's programs.
This has not been an academic exercise. USAID's senior leadership has been engaged with the working groups to discuss their recommendations. Earlier this month, Paul Bonicelli, Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, held a joint meeting with members of the economic growth and governance working groups to discuss better integration of USAID's economic growth and governance programs at the field level. One recommendation that was discussed related to the cross-training of governance and economic growth officers.
In addition, over the course of the summer, the Implementation Mechanisms working group held several meetings with USAID's Office of Acquisitions and Assistance to discuss ways to foster guidance for USAID missions, as well as look at the Agency's ADS chapter on procurement. Under Maureen Shauket's leadership, this dialogue will continue over the course of the next several months.
I would also like to recognize the more recent efforts and contributions of the Humanitarian Assistance and Investing in People working groups, under the leadership of Nancy Lindborg and Steve Moseley respectively.
I understand that they have been meeting with staff from USAID and the Office of the Director of Foreign Assistance as well as the larger PVO community. The discussions that took place earlier today will be equally helpful to USAID as we work together to strengthen the U.S. foreign assistance program. I look forward to reading their final recommendations and discussing next steps because we will now move to action, and setting our expectations for results.
This is an exciting, demanding, and rewarding time to be involved with international development. When President Bush and Secretary Rice asked me to lead USAID and serve as Director of Foreign Assistance at the State Department, I could not have imagined a more fulfilling challenge. Today's meeting comes at a moment of intense activity in international diplomacy and in efforts to transform the management of USAID's complex operations.
During the past few days, a number of us have been involved in the World Bank meetings and in the worldwide conference of USAID Mission Directors. This last event takes place only once every two years. I would like to report on some highlights of these and other recent events, because I know they concern you, and I count on you as partners in our work.
Last week, I presided at the graduation ceremony for the newest class of USAID Foreign Service Officers. I told them they represent the future of USAID and that quite literally, the future is now. Statistically, our USAID Foreign Service corps is very new--50% of our Foreign Service Officers have entered onto duty since 2001. This will require that our new officers rapidly gain experience. It means that all of us--and you, our private voluntary organization partners, and our partners in private enterprise, help these new officers quickly come up to speed on your programs.
Earlier this month I took part in another sort of graduation ceremony. I went to Bulgaria and celebrated the closing of the USAID Mission and the "graduation" of Bulgaria from aid recipient to sustaining partner among the developed countries of the European Union and NATO. This success story would not have been possible without the energy and creativity of the private voluntary organizations you represent. The challenge now is to think about public-private partnerships that move the country and the United States' mutual interests.
At the World Bank meetings, I took part in the public release of the annual "Doing Business" report. It was very satisfying to point to the good work of governments recognized by the World Bank for their achievements in regulatory reform allowing entrepreneurs to do business more productively and competitively without unnecessary bureaucratic burdens. Again, many of you have helped to make these reforms a reality. Certainly I should mention our ACVFA Chairman, Dr. John Sullivan of the Center for International Private Enterprise.
Finally, even as I speak with you today, USAID is conducting the third and final day of its biennial Worldwide Mission Directors' Conference. In structuring this conference, we have put a premium on ideas and discussion by the mission directors themselves. And, as we had hoped, we had a very candid and at the same time, constructive response. I am delighted that our mission directors to El Salvador, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Philippines are also among the speakers at this ACVFA meeting.
We also have welcomed some important guest speakers whose presence underlined that international development is an integral part of U.S. national security and foreign policy. Some of the important messages discussed include connecting and coordinating better the resources of development actors, strengthening and revitalizing USAID, civil-military relations, and the role of private-public partnerships.
Forty years ago, only 30% of U.S. capital flows to the developing world were private funds; 70% came in the form of U.S. official development assistance. And while we have more than doubled development assistance in this decade, American private capital flows to the developing world have tripled between 2003 and 2005 alone, and now represent over 80% of capital funding to developing countries.
Since the vast majority of private investments go to rapidly growing economies such as India and China, public foreign investment is vital to those regions and countries whose economic and political climates are less attractive to private investors. It increases stability and creates conditions conducive to the investment that drives growth and reduces poverty.
This new reality is something we all should embrace. In a globalized world there are no single-actor solutions that can bring about sustained results. Public-private partnerships unite the unique skills and resources of each partner and apply them to development challenges for sustainable solutions.
Together, the combination of the public and private sectors' complementary assets has encouraged innovative approaches, more effective problem-solving and deeper development impact. Expanding and deepening private-public partnerships is one of my highest priorities at USAID.
With greater economic freedom, and greater access to and freer movement of capital and information and ideas, the people of the developing world can write a bright new chapter in their history. You and I will not be bystanders but participants. This next chapter takes the form of what I call the Global Development Commons.
The Global Development Commons is not a government program, nor is it a business enterprise in the traditional sense, nor is it a strictly non-profit activity. Rather, it is a media environment that enhances the capabilities for all three of these sectors to operate more productively to promote freedom and prosperity in the developing world.
Like good business management in the developed economies, progress in the economic emergence of today's poor countries will involve less bureaucracy and less vertical organization, and more interactivity in a "flat" or horizontal environment. We do not have to call the Global Development Commons into existence; it already exists. But we can make it more robust and productive if we work together strategically as we participate in this media environment.
Today, I am inviting the ACVFA to co-host with me the Global Development Commons forums. These forums would be based on ideas and information that we already possess, what we know, based on our decades of experience in the field. The Forums will also discuss the great debates in development concepts and best practices.
Forums will include private-public partnerships, economic growth as a lynch pin for poverty reduction and education as a foundation for growth. The recommendations of the ACVFA's working groups have laid a solid foundation that the Forums could be built on. I believe that the expertise and variety of backgrounds represented on the Committee will inform a vibrant dialogue. USAID is fortunate to have an Advisory Committee with such a long-standing reputation and at such an important time in U.S. foreign assistance, it is only fitting to ask the ACVFA to join me in engaging the larger foreign assistance community in a discussion.
The world is not standing still. We cannot afford to remain static either in our imagination or in our systems for doing business.
Released on November 6, 2007