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US Development Policy

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Thirty thousand Americans (and counting!) have written to the White House this week asking for one thing: a global development strategy. President Obama is expecting recommendations from the Presidential Study Directive on U.S. Global Development Policy in January, and a growing chorus of constituents is clamoring for the recommendations to be taken seriously and to be turned into a national strategy for global development.

The Presidential Study Directive on U.S. Global Development Policy was initiated by the president in August and is being co-chaired by National Security Council Chairman General James Jones and National Economic Council Chairman Dr. Lawrence Summers. As my colleague Sheila Herrling has reported, the study aims to bring together all U.S. government agencies that work on development in some way—not just on foreign assistance, but trade, migration, security issues and more—to craft recommendations for a whole-of-government approach to global development.

  When I asked Sheila recently what she thought of the PSD process so far, she commented:

I think the PSD is in the incredibly good hands of Gayle Smith, Jeremy Weinstein and Chris Broughton.  The very fact that for the first time ever, the White House is gathering all the agencies to one table to even attempt to lay out a whole-of-government strategy and focus for global development is stunning in itself.  And I respect very much the way in which they have organized tackling the issues: start with 'the what' — what is the substance, objectives, priorities and trade-offs of  U.S. development policy?  Once you have achieved consensus on that, move to the 'the means and tools' – what do we need to make U.S. development policy more effective?  And then, and only then, tackle the very thorny (and too often frontloaded) question of 'the how' — how to organize the U.S. government to achieve the stated objectives.

While the study is in itself a huge step in the right direction, we know that it is one of many issues on the White House agenda. As the White House strives to craft a whole-of-government approach to global development, our friends at Bread for the World, CARE, ONE, Women Thrive Worldwide and elsewhere are circulating a whole-of-development-community petition asking the White House to send a strong signal about America’s commitment to development. The petition reads:

TO THE WHITE HOUSE:

I strongly support U.S. foreign assistance efforts that alleviate poverty, fight disease, and create opportunity in developing countries.

As General James Jones and Dr. Lawrence Summers prepare recommendations on how to deliver on President Obama’s promise to ensure that development is “established and endures as a key pillar of U.S. foreign policy,” I ask for action on one key issue:

Create a U.S. global development strategy that gives development a strong voice in foreign policy decisions and coordinates our efforts to alleviate global poverty, fight disease, and create economic opportunity.

Addressing this issue quickly will strengthen ongoing efforts across the U.S. government to make foreign assistance more effective and accountable.

You can find (and sign) the petition on the websites of the sponsoring organizations or at the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network site that keeps a running total of petition signers.

Disclaimer

CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.