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MFAN's October Newsletter
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Latest News:

  • MFAN Co-Chairs applaud ownership & accountability elements in new USAID program guidance
  • MFAN releases two-pager on importance of foreign assistance evaluations
  • Congress passes FY2017 Continuing Resolution, international affairs budget slightly lower than Administration request
  • GAO publishes new reports on ForeignAssistance.gov, food aid, and M&E policies
  • President Obama hosts Refugee Summit at UN General Assembly
  • MFAN is now on Linkedin!
  • Job Openings & News Clips
MFAN Co-Chairs applaud ownership & accountability elements in new USAID program guidance
 
The MFAN Co-Chairs recently sent a letter to USAID Administrator Gayle Smith commending the Agency’s newly revised internal Automated Directives System (ADS) guidance. The new guidance has the potential to have a major impact on how the agency designs, operationalizes, and evaluates development programs. MFAN also sent a letter in March urging the inclusion of aid effectiveness principles, and we are pleased to see the pillars of country ownership and accountability thoroughly reflected throughout chapter 200 on Development Policy and chapter 201 on Program Cycle Operational Policy.
 
Positive local ownership elements include the adoption of MFAN’s frame of ownership: aligning with the priorities of local actors, leveraging local resources, and increasing local implementation to sustain results over time. Strong accountability provisions were also included, with a focus on the importance of evaluation and learning. Additionally, the revisions call for stakeholders and beneficiaries to be included throughout the evaluation process and for local evaluation capacity to be strengthened, both of which MFAN called for in the ACCOUNTdown to 2017 campaign.
 
Read the newly revised ADS chapters 200 and 201 and blogs from former USAID Philippines Mission Director Gloria Steele here and from Plan USA’s Justin Fugle here
MFAN releases two-pager on importance of foreign assistance evaluations
 
MFAN’s Accountability Working Group recently released a document highlighting the importance of foreign assistance evaluations. This two-pager, a companion document to MFAN’s Role of Transparency paper, states that “high-quality, rigorous evaluations produce knowledge that can help donors increase value for money and help partners maximize impact.” 

MFAN also lays out six principles for getting the most out of evaluations: plan from the start; go for quality; involve local participants; accept mixed findings; share the results; and use them to inform decision-making. Lastly, the paper points out that only three of the 22 foreign assistance agencies - MCC, USAID, and the State Department - have formal evaluation policies and publish results from evaluations publicly. MFAN is encouraged by recent efforts from the Department of Defense to establish an evaluation policy, and urges other agencies to take on similar exercises.
 
Read the full paper here.
Congress passes FY2017 Continuing Resolution, international affairs budget slightly lower than Administration request
 
Last week Congress avoided a government shutdown and approved a Continuing Resolution through December 9 for Fiscal Year 2017. The international affairs budget totals $54.4 billion, representing a slight cut from current levels. The cut affects the base funding, $39.5 billion, and not the $14.9 billion allocated for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. The package includes $1.1 billion to fight the Zika virus, which is $780 million less than requested by the Obama Administration; $175 million of the provision will be granted to USAID and the State Department.  
 
During the debate over Zika funding, Liz Schrayer, President & CEO of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) and MFAN Executive Committee member, published an op-ed in TIME about the bipartisan success story of support for foreign assistance in this Congress. In a highly polarized Congress, Schrayer points to a bright spot of bipartisanship around strengthening foreign assistance programs, listing several bills that this Congress has acted on including the final passage of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act. She urged Democrats and Republicans to continue this legacy by agreeing on a funding package to combat Zika.
 
Read Schrayer’s op-ed here, and check out the latest budget updates from USGLC.
GAO publishes new reports on ForeignAssistance.gov, food aid, and
M&E policies
 
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently reviewed the collection and reporting of data on ForeignAssistance.gov (FA.gov), the U.S. Government’s main platform for sharing foreign assistance data from the 22 agencies that administer foreign aid. The majority of the ten agencies that currently report to the website described a lack of capacity in their information technology systems as the main obstacle to collecting and reporting data. GAO also found the data on FA.gov incomplete and of poor quality. The report states that the State Department, which manages the site, was not fully transparent about the limitations of the data, and that the lack of verified annual data hampered data quality. GAO recommends that the State Department improve the transparency and quality of FA.gov data by working with USAID and OMB to provide guidance for agencies on both identifying data gaps and improving data quality.
 
In addition, GAO recently reviewed USAID’s cash-based food assistance programs and found that the agency has established processes to monitor its cash and voucher programs, but there is not enough data to formally evaluate the effectiveness of these programs.

Finally, GAO also published a report on the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) policies of six agencies: Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Health and Human Services, Department of State, USAID, and MCC
. The review found that all agencies, except DOD which currently developing an evaluation policy, have policies that "generally address the leading M&E practices [GAO] identified."
 
Read the full reports here: ForeignAssistance.govCash-Based Food Assistance, and Monitoring & Evaluation.
President Obama hosts Refugee Summit at UN General Assembly
 
Last month, President Obama gave his final address before the UN General Assembly. He touched on many global challenges, including Syria and the global refugee crisis. To highlight the plight of refugees and galvanize concrete commitments from governments and the private sector, President Obama hosted a Leaders’ Summit on Refugees on the sidelines of UNGA. The summit aimed to increase humanitarian funding pledges, encourage accelerated resettlement of refugees, and broaden opportunities for displaced populations.
 
During his speech Obama called for collective action to solve conflicts and more assistance for the 65 million people displaced from their homes. Obama pointed out that the majority of refugees are hosted by Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Ethiopia, “countries that often have fewer resources than many of those who are doing little or nothing.” The President continued by making the connection between greater investments in development and a more stable world. 
 
Commitments from the summit included $50 million from the U.S. to help middle and lower income countries hosting refugees, $650 million from businesses to empower refugees, and $1.2 billion over the next three years from InterAction, an MFAN member and coalition of American NGOs. Additionally, nations in attendance agreed to increase the number of refugees they admit to 360,000.
 
Read President Obama’s full speech here, and see here for a statement from MFAN Co-Chair and Save the Children President & CEO Carolyn Miles.
MFAN is now on Linkedin!
 
There is now a new way to engage with MFAN on social media.  Be sure to follow MFAN’s Linkedin page, where we will be actively sharing updates, featuring blogs, and promoting events. As always, we will continue to regularly post new content on Facebook and Twitter as well.  
 
Stay up-to-date on aid effectiveness by following MFAN across social media!
Job Openings:
News Clips
Copyright © 2016 Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN), All rights reserved.


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