SEATTLE — On October 5, 2017, Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced, in the Senate, the Multilateral Aid Review Act of 2017. The bill aims to establish a Multilateral Aid Review conducted by an interagency task force and a peer review group.
The review would publicly assess the value of U.S. government investments in multilateral entities. This would include how well multilateral institutions carry out their missions, how effective the institutions and missions are to American interests and how effectively American aid is used by these institutions.
Multilateral institutions are institutions formed between multiple countries to address issues relating to each participating country. The bill specifies 39 total multilateral institutions that would be reviewed, including the World Bank and several entities within the U.N. The U.S. currently gives more than 10 billion dollars annually to multilateral institutions.
The interagency task force will be chaired by the Secretary of State or a senior official chosen by the Secretary of State with members of the task force chosen by the President from a group of senior, Senate-approved officials from the State Department, Treasury Department, USAID, the Office of Management and Budget and any other relevant departments or agencies in the executive branch. The peer review group will be made up of eight volunteer members and the Senate majority and minority leaders, the speaker of the House and the minority leader of the House will choose two members each.
The bill sets out three objectives for the aid review. These are to:
- Provide a tool to guide the United States Government’s decision-making and prioritization with regard to funding multilateral entities and to provide a methodological basis for allocating scarce budgetary resources to entities that advance relevant United States foreign policy objectives.
- Incentivize improvements in the performance of multilateral entities to achieve better outcomes on the ground in developing, fragile, and crisis-afflicted regions.
- Protect United States taxpayer investments in foreign assistance by improving transparency with regard to the funding of multilateral entities.
The review will create an assessment scorecard to determine the effectiveness of institutions, programs and aid. Grades will be based on the relationship between stated goals and actual results, whether institutions have responsible management, the accountability and transparency of institutions, alignment of institutions with U.S. foreign policy objectives, whether a multilateral or bilateral approach would be more effective and whether there are any redundancies or overlap between institutions or programs.
If the Multilateral Aid Review Act is passed, the first review would be conducted within 21 months of its enactment, with additional reviews being conducted every three years. These reviews would be submitted to the Congressional committees specified in the bill and released on the State Department website.
In a statement, Sen. Corker said that Americans have a right to know how U.S. involvement in multilateral institutions benefits the country. The bill would allow for this to happen through a more thorough and objective review of these institutions, which will allow for more informed decisions on prioritizing resources and demanding better outcomes. Sen. Coons concurred, stating that it is in the nation’s best interest to provide transparency and increase impact overseas.
The bill was introduced with bipartisan support, with three Republicans, Todd Young (R-IN), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and three Democrats, Tim Kaine (D-VA), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA) cosponsoring the bill in addition to Sen. Coons. The next step for the Multilateral Aid Review Act will be hearings and debate in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
– Erik Beck