Untangling the spider web of U.S. foreign aid

November 26, 2008

The United States could feed more hungry people around the world by reforming its convoluted foreign aid system, a coalition of aid groups said on Monday.
The groups called on President-Elect Barack Obama to create an agency to take charge and accountability for aid, and handed out this convoluted chart from Brookings Institute to make their point.

The chart links the departments, agencies and government offices that have a role in aid policy and programs — the grey and blue boxes on the right — with 50 foreign aid objectives (in green) and the laws and initiatives behind them (in yellow and red.)
(Click on this link if you really want to connect the dots. )
Aid organizations also want freer trade, fewer subsidies, and more flexibility to buy food aid closer to where it’s needed, rather than being required to ship U.S. crops overseas, said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. And they have friends in high places who may spur reforms, he said.
Obama, Vice-President-Elect Joe Biden, and Secretary of State-in-waiting Hillary Clinton all have strong foreign aid creds, as do Timothy Geithner, Obama’s choice for treasury secretary, and Lawrence Summers, new head of the National Economic Council, Beckmann said.
Several members of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network are advising the president-elect, Beckmann noted, including Gayle Smith, Larry Nowels, and Brookings’ Lael Brainard, who created the spider web chart shown here.
Brainard has been touted as a possible candidate for U.S. Trade Representative.


The chart even when clicked on is unreadable.

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