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Shifting Power: USAID's Budget Can Be A Force for Equity and Innovation
USAID Administrator Samantha Power spent Wednesday morning and afternoon in Congressional hearings in support of USAID's $29+ billion budget request. Here were some of the highlights.
Dear Unlock Aid Community,
On Wednesday, USAID Administrator Samantha Power appeared before both the House Appropriations Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee in support of her $29+ billion FY23 budget request for USAID. If you watched the hearings and are global development nerds like we are (and if you’re reading this, we know you are!), you know it was exciting. If you missed it, Unlock Aid was livetweeting both the House and Senate hearings.
First, some context: last Fall, Administrator Power outlined a bold, new vision for the agency, defined by a greater commitment to make funding decisions based on evidence, directing new funding to historically under-invested sectors such as climate, and diversifying the agency, not only in terms of who works for USAID but also who USAID works with. This is the first time that Power could write her own budget and we’re energized by her vision and what the agency is poised to achieve. As we know, budgets are moral documents; they reflect our priorities and put our money where our values are. And there’s a lot to like in Power’s budget. But who does the work will matter as much as what work gets done.
Here were some highlights from the hearing:
Members of Congress want to see far more innovation out of USAID. Sen. Chris Murphy talked about the need for the agency to take a more active role to help other countries transition to new energy sources. Sen. Cory Booker wants better investments in new ways to grapple with a global food crisis. Members from both parties, and in the House and the Senate, want to see USAID make it easier to crowd-in new perspectives, organizations, and strategies. Samantha Power agrees.
Power underscored that climate change is real and it is here. Communities are already adapting, and this will dramatically impact every USAID program. We must support and scale the solutions that have been evaluated to deliver results at scale.
With Dr. John Nkengasong’s recent confirmation to lead PEPFAR, we were also so encouraged by this answer from Samantha Power about what the United States can do when it has a singular focus to drive results.
Finally, we know that innovation is not just about technology, it’s also about making sure representative and proximate voices not only have a seat at the table, but are leading critical decision making about our collective future. Check out this exchange between Administrator Power and Sen. Sheehan about how women’s education, health, economic empowerment and leadership is critical to unlocking success at the community, country, and global levels of our society.
‘Tis the season of testimony, so save the date for Power’s appearance next Tuesday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Have no fear, Unlock Aid will watch and report back on what we hear. There will also be livetweeting, so make sure you’re following us already.
Unlock Aid is a community and we want to hear from you. What stood out to you about the hearings? What is needed most? Join the conversation here.
Unlock Aid Executive Director
P.S. In case you missed it, we also loved this question from Sen. Cory Booker. To attract frontline innovators to work with USAID, we also need to see changes to how the agency gets money out the door. Sen. Booker identifies an effective but underutilized tool USAID can use to incentivize better outcomes, ensure accountability, and crowd-in new partners.