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The Debate over USAID Procurement Reform

USAID can greatly increase its partnerships with local institutions and build support for procurement reform within our development community if it better defines the rationale behind the reform, increases transparency, and uses current mechanisms to expand its partner base.

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Procurement reform is not a topic that usually quickens the pulse. But efforts at the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, to utilize other countries’ local governments and organizations to carry out its programs on the ground have triggered a debate that will ultimately affect millions of lives in the years to come.

Over the past three years, USAID has undertaken an initiative to direct more of its projects around the globe to local partners in the countries in which it works. The agency has referred to these ongoing reforms under a series of different names, including implementation and procurement reform, or IPR; sustainable partnerships; and local solutions. Despite the evolving nomenclature, the basic premise of the effort has remained the same: USAID is seeking to directly work with and build the capacity of local governments, civil society, and the private sector in the countries in which it operates. USAID maintains that such a shift will make development efforts more effective, more enduring, and less costly.

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