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The lack of well-defined core priorities has enabled structural fragmentation across the more than 20 agencies that together constitute the US development architecture, making resource optimization and policy coordination nearly impossible. To maintain its relevance in a changing global development landscape, US foreign assistance should focus on four core development priorities: state fragility, inclusive growth, global health, and humanitarian assistance. Within these priority areas, 14 immediately actionable reforms would increase US development effectiveness and efficiency while paving the way for more significant reforms in the future:
Expand the use of USAID competition waivers to enable speedy and responsive programming in fragile environments.
Build a USAID recovery/transition surge capacity.
Permit earmark relief in post-disaster and transitional settings.
Increase complementarity between USAID and MCC.
Embrace subsequent compacts in MCC countries.
Expand OPIC into a full-fledged development finance institution.
Better align PEPFAR funding streams with agency core capacities.
Consolidate and elevate USAID’s humanitarian offices.
Get food aid reform over the goal line (and take USDA out of the game).
Streamline reporting requirements and create a standardized rating system for program effectiveness.
Conduct a multilateral assistance review.
Harmonize country-level development engagement strategies.
Rationalize USAID hiring mechanisms.
Review the rationale for the African Development Foundation and the Inter-American Foundation.