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USAID’s largest-ever foreign assistance package doubles down on colonial aid

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USAID is about to allocate $17 billion to global health contracts. This would be the agency’s biggest-ever commitment to an aid program that nearly everyone agrees has been broken. Rather than continue with this colonial model of aid, we need to suspend current contract design, reissue a new call for proposals, and seize the opportunity for real reform to spend money smarter.

of USAID “Next Generation Global Health Supply Chain” The deal could hasten the transition for many countries from a relationship with the United States defined by aid to one built on mutually beneficial trade. A commendable goal is to give low- and middle-income countries access to essential health commodities such as HIV tests and malaria drugs. However, as it is now written, the deal threatens the local market by displacing an already effectively operating business.

No matter which country you travel to in Africa, Asia or Latin America, dozens of enterprise Transforming global supply chains and expanding access to healthcare for hundreds of millions of people. For example, mPharma, owner of Africa’s largest pharmacy network, is rapidly increasing access to medical professionals and life-saving drugs across the continent, including in remote communities.

These are the kinds of companies that USAID administrator Samantha Power was talking about over a year ago. explained A “new vision” for global development focused on providing more resources to organizations in a position to drive better, cheaper and more sustainable impact. They are also the type of company that the US Development Finance Corporation invests in. But USAID’s Next Generation contract doesn’t take advantage of these kinds of innovative companies that can fulfill Power’s mission.

Instead, they are anti-competitive deals for the dozen or so government contractors that have won most of the agency’s business since the 1960s.one Contract To provide domestic logistics services, companies can actually only budget 25% of the total contract value of domestic supply chain providers. The winning government contractor can take the rest.

Another technology-focused Contract It will limit eligibility to apply to pre-approved government vendors, preventing the world’s best tech companies from even submitting bids.

Next-gen companies cannot directly compete for every dollar in these “next-gen” awards. Nor should you rely on subcontractors. 73% of companies that have tried to work with USAID’s largest contractors report Large aid contractors routinely cut them out of promised work. This is a pervasive problem with power. Admitted But the agency has not addressed.

you said To tell Its “overarching” purpose is “to help countries become self-reliant, thereby ending the need for foreign aid.” But these Next Generation Awards instead perpetuate dependence on foreign aid by putting contractors in a position to run other countries’ medical supply chains.

This $17 billion project will continuation Before that it was $10.5 billion and before that it was $2.5 billion. Billions of dollars in a string of awards dating back to the 1960s have been used to pay salaries, overhead and rent for office parks in Virginia and Maryland rather than impacting the country for which they were intended. So it’s hard to call this “foreign” aid.

To make matters worse, much of this $17 billion taxpayer-funded project pays contractors to carry out activities rather than deliver results. 2019 USAID Inspector General Report punished An institution that pays contractors in full, even if they don’t produce results, USAID has designed these Next Generation Awards to do it again.

If Power really wants to reform foreign aid (and I believe it does), she’ll have to get into the weeds. Procurement with shuns innovation. Ambitious reforms die here.

African countries in particular are rightfully unhappy with our performance, including our short-sighted response to the pandemic. Senator Chris Coons (D-D) Said The power that countries abstained from or voted against UN resolutions last year meant a wake-up call about ‘our failures, lack of vaccine delivery’. [and] humanitarian relief. “I am sure many African countries still want a close partnership with the United States, but they see us as untrustworthy. I have.”

These deals are an opportunity to transform aid, spur innovation and help low and middle income countries work towards economic independence, rather than another decade of bankrupt development. These contracts could be streamlined and structured to boost the market rather than disrupt it with anti-competitive funds.

During the US-Africa summit last month, President Biden said Overview “A positive foundation for a 21st century partnership between Africa and the United States.”

Walter Kerr is Executive Director of Unlock Aid, a global coalition of innovators focused on reforming aid agencies.

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