In a hearing before the Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, staff from the General Accountability Office (GAO) provided testimony on the opportunities and challenges of local and regional procurement (LRP) of U.S. food aid.
GAO Testimony – Influenza Pandemic: Continued Focus on the Nation’s Planning and Preparedness Efforts Remains Essential
At a hearing before a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, GAO staff testified on U.S. planning and preparedness efforts to address a potential influenza pandemic.
GAO Report – International Food Assistance: Local and Regional Procurement Can Enhance the Efficiency of U.S. Food Aid, but Challenges May Constrain Its Implementation
In an analysis of the U.S. approach to delivering food aid, the General Accountability Office (GAO) compared local and regional procurement (LRP) of food aid to in-kind donations. The GAO found that LRP “offers donors a tool to reduce food aid costs and delivery time, but multiple challenges to ensuring cost-savings and timely delivery exist.” Some of the challenges faced by using LRP are: uncertain food quality, insufficient local and regional delivery capabilities, existing U.S. legislation requiring U.S. production and transportation of food assistance, and uncertain impacts on local markets (i.e. potential increased prices due to increased demand).
The proposed bill directs the President to develop and implement a strategy to reduce global poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Among other things, the bill requires that the strategy include measurable goals, benchmarks, and timelines, and that it build upon, leverage, and better coordinate existing efforts to address issues relevant to global poverty such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, water, and hunger. Finally, the bill requires the President to report back to Congress regularly on the progress of the strategy.
In a speech at the Brookings Institution titled “Diplomacy and Development in the 21st Century: A Conversation with Senator John Kerry,” Senator Kerry summarized his views on the current state of U.S. diplomatic and development institutions and suggested a number of reforms that would “strengthen our civilian institutions to adequately address the challenges of the 21st century.” Some of these reforms include:
- Increasing resources, personnel and training;
- Improving coordination of U.S. foreign assistance programs;
- Clarifying the policies and goals of U.S. foreign assistance;
- Reauthorizing the Foreign Assistance Act; and
- Rebalancing the decision-making process between Washington and the field.
Senator Kerry also announced that he would be “introducing two pieces of legislation: a Foreign Affairs Authorization Act that will authorize the State Department and related accounts, and an initial foreign aid reform bill.”
Among other things, the resolution states that the House of Representatives “supports raising awareness of the risks and consequences of undiagnosed chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections, and the urgency for a robust governmental and public health response to protect the health of approximately 6,000,000 people in the United States and nearly 600,000,000 people worldwide who suffer from chronic viral hepatitis.”
The proposed bill authorizes appropriation levels for the Department of State for FY2010 and FY2011 and directs the Secretary of State to make specific reforms in U.S. foreign relation policy. Among other things, the proposed bill incorporates aspects of other recently introduced bills to protect girls by preventing child marriage.
S. 1054 provides supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2009. The version passed by the Senate Committee on Appropriations on May 14, 2009 provided $91.3 billion in supplemental funding with appropriations dedicated to the International Affairs budget, food assistance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, and to addressing pandemic diseases.
Timeline of the bill:
- The Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs released a summary of the supplemental appropriations budget for the Department of State and Foreign Operations on May 12, 2009.
- Senator Inouye formally introduced the bill on May 14, 2009. The bill was approved by the Senate Committee on Appropriations on the same day.
The proposed bill requires “the use of long-term strategies for United States national security, diplomacy, and foreign assistance and the full use of performance-based budgeting for foreign assistance programs, projects, and activities.”
The proposed bill directs the Secretary of State to determine and withhold the amount of the U.S. contribution to the United Nations that would be allocated to the United Nations Human Rights Council.