The United States should launch a heightened domestic propaganda campaign in order to gain support at home for its role in providing global aid, the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) today recommended.
Though it did not use the term "propaganda," OECD indeed exhorted the Obama Adminstration to endeavor to gain domestic support for overseas aid programs. The report therefore recommended that the U.S. government do a better job at molding public perception of international assistance, an effort that the report characterized as carrying out “more targeted efforts to communicate results.”
The US has a vibrant and generous civil society made up of a wide range of coalitions, which include think tanks, NGOs, foundations, and the private sector. These are instrumental both in advocating and raising public awareness for development and in implementing the aid programme.
The White House can accomplish this by “engaging more strategically” with the American public, according to OECD.
The U.S. is a “generous donor” and is “committed to making aid more effective,” OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) acknowledged in the report “Review of the Development Co-operation Policies and Programs of the United States.” However, the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, which contains “140 broad priorities and 400 specific directives for implementing the priorities,” serves as an impediment to the development of coherent strategy for global assistance.
In order to address this flaw in the law, the U.S. Congress needs to “give the Administration greater flexibility in how it conducts its development programmes and accounts, within the funding levels determined by Congress,” according to the OECD report.
Similarly, the Administration should decrease its reliance on U.S. contractors to carry out global aid projects, while also developing contractor and U.S. military partnerships to heighten the efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian operations, it said.
Among other recommendations, the group urged U.S. lawmakers to streamline its international aid process, pointing out that dozens of different agencies currently carry out those duties:
Out of the 27 entities involved in US development co-operation, USAID and the State Department are the two key drivers of the system. Four other entities are of specific importance: the departments of health and human services, defense, and treasury; and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). In 2006, the US Administration launched a set of reforms which strengthened collaboration between the State Department and USAID for strategic programming, budgeting and reporting. However, this reform did not apply to the other 25 US agencies.
The report additionally suggests bolstering the capabilities of USAID, for which it recommends strengthening staffing levels in order to reduce the agency’s reliance on outsourcing projects to contractors.