Revamping U.S. Foreign Assistance

HELP Commission report highlights why cabinet-level leadership can ensure foreign assistance helps the poor help themselves, writes Gayle Smith.

Beyond Assistance: The HELP Commission Report on Foreign Assistance Reform

Revamping U.S. Assistance, by Jeffrey D. Sachs, Leo Hindrey, Jr., and Gayle E. Smith

Yesterday the United States Commission on Helping to Enhance the Livelihood of People Around the Globe unveiled its detailed and bipartisan set of recommendations to elevate and modernize our foreign aid system. After the HELP Commission’s exhaustive, 22-month effort, one key ingredient to success stands out—the need for dedicated executive branch leadership to fix our broken approach to foreign assistance and ensure our foreign aid dollars are leveraged to create more and better opportunities for the world’s poor.

The HELP Commission’s key set of recommendations hinge on creating a more effective and coordinated approach to U.S. foreign assistance. Two fellow commissioners and I added in a minority report that only through the creation of an independent cabinet level development agency can the U.S. government act on the need to promote sustainable development and forge a unified foreign assistance program out of the welter of programs now in existence across a range of government agencies.

I believe the HELP Commission report and our minority report present the next U.S. administration with the blueprint it will need to swiftly revamp our foreign assistance programs. The commission’s collective efforts point the way toward the United States deploying its massive “soft power” for the mutual benefit of our nation and the world by giving the next president the new foreign policy tools needed to fight poverty abroad.

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