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The lead editorial in today’s Washington Post, Reforming Foreign Assistance, argues in support of proposals to move USAID into the State Department. It predicts that such a move will be opposed by special interest lobbying from U.S. aid contractors:

“Already there have been complaints that the administration is trying to "politicize" U.S. assistance by asserting State Department control -- an odd objection considering how political aid is already. These suspicions of politicization are likely to be compounded by obstruction from U.S.-based aid contractors, who will resent a threat to their earmarks. This resistance must be understood for what it is: special-interest lobbying that hardly serves the interests of poor countries.”

The editorial makes some decent points but does not address an important issue for the development community: To what degree will inserting USAID into the State Department –or reorganizing foreign aid boxes generally to bring greater strategic coherence – detract from the poverty alleviation objectives of development policy, versus other broader foreign policy/national security concerns (for example, rewarding allies)? This is an issue worthy of genuine debate. It is not, as the editorial suggests, just a question of contractor and special interest lobbying.

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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.