USAID Administrator Tobias Discusses Future of U.S. Foreign Assistance at Wilson Center Gala

New Strategy Focuses on Governance, Accountability

Feb 01, 2007

Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development—and the first-ever Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance—Randall Tobias discussed reforms to U.S. foreign assistance, as well as the renewed commitment to it, at a Wilson Center gala at the State Department in November 2006.

Previously, foreign assistance tackled issues such as promoting Eastern European partnerships and attacking the narcotics trade in Latin America. Yet targeted efforts such as these do not amount to a comprehensive strategy, he said. The overarching reform will shift foreign assistance away from a piecemeal approach and toward a unified strategy.

Under the new strategy, foreign assistance will remain a means of helping countries address poverty and development, but it will also be used to help promote good governance, accountability, and transparency. Each of these goals, he noted, also helps protect the United States: "There is little doubt that helping developing nations become peaceful, stable, and economically self-sufficient is in the best interest of the nation's security."

The overall amount of aid will not decrease with the assistance reforms. Tobias noted that foreign aid has increased three-fold since President Bush took office. Maintaining a high level of foreign aid, however, requires commitment on the part of the receiving countries: "[T]hese vastly increased resources have also come with a new focus on the accompanying responsibilities…[including] the ability of a nation to graduate from traditional development assistance and become a full partner in international peace and prosperity."

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