Moving “USAID Forward”

November 15, 2010 By Joel Paque

Those following foreign assistance reform have probably heard bits and pieces about “USAID Forward,” a process that has been described as the agency’s “change management agenda.”  It is mentioned as an “early outcome” of the QDDR in USAID’s fact sheet on the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, and Secretary Clinton and Administrator Shah mentioned that reforms were already underway at USAID during the USGLC annual conference in September.  Last month Administrator Shah held an internal USAID training on its objectives, but a comprehensive summary of USAID Forward has been harder to come by.  

What we do know is that USAID Forward encompasses seven areas of reform aimed at strengthening USAID as it seeks to better meet its goals:

1. Implementation and Procurement Reform: In addition to streamlining its procurement process, USAID is also looking to expand its base of partners, including more small businesses and local host country organizations.

2. Talent Management: USAID is looking at ways to better leverage its existing staff capacity and technical expertise, while also attracting and retaining the best possible staff to address the most pressing development challenges today.

3. Rebuilding Policy Capacity: USAID has already created a new Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) that will serve as a center of research, knowledge-sharing and evaluation to create cutting edge development policies.

4. Strengthening Monitoring and Evaluation: USAID will be implementing revised monitoring and evaluation policies, and tie them to program design and budgeting.

5. Rebuilding Budget Management: In consultation with the Department of State, USAID has created an Office of Budget and Resource Management in the Office of the Administrator.

6. Science and Technology: USAID will make upgrades to its internal science and technologies capabilities, as well as investing in partner countries though research grants as it seeks to address key scientific and technical barriers that prevent development successes.

7. Innovation: As part of its reforms aimed at increasing development impact through innovation, USAID is launching the Development Innovation Ventures Fund. The Fund will provide grant money for development solutions through the inception and pilot stages, as well as support for taking successful innovations to scale.

Each of these items reflects elements in strengthening and empowering USAID.  We look forward to following the implementation of USAID Forward as part of the overall release of the final report of the QDDR, now anticipated in mid-December.