March 08, 2022

House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations, and Global Corporate Social Impact Holds Hearing on USAID’s Efforts to Promote Locally-Led Development

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Development, International Organizations, and Global Corporate Social Impact held a hearing under the leadership of Chairman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) to examine the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s efforts to promote locally-led development in international assistance programs. The hearing witness was Michele Sumilas, Assistant to the Administrator of the Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning.

“As the United States responds to the crisis in Ukraine and prepares for future challenges around the world, increasing USAID’s collaborations with local partners will make our international investments more effective, sustainable, and equitable,” said Chairman Castro. “In November, USAID Administrator Samantha Power laid out a bold vision for the agency to dedicate 25 percent of U.S. aid to development efforts led by local partners, with a longer-term goal to incorporate local voices into at least half of their programs. I thank Ms. Sumilas for testifying about USAID’s plans to reach those benchmarks, and I look forward to ongoing collaboration to help the agency reach that goal.”

During the hearing, Chairman Castro asked Ms. Sumilas how USAID will define local entities for the purpose of USAID funding allocations. Ms. Sumilas responded that USAID has formed an internal working group to solicit input from mission directors, staff, local partners, and others on the most effective definition. Ms. Sumilas stressed that USAID will prioritize a clear, consistent, and measurable definition that can be used across the agency. She noted that USAID expects to release their final definition in the coming months.

In further questioning, Chairman Castro asked if current USAID efforts to support locally-led development will need to be modified to meet the agency’s new localization goals. He noted that in the past, programs like PEPFAR and the New Partnerships Initiative have used their own definition of localization. Ms. Sumilas noted the important role of existing localization programs but explained that USAID’s new approach will strive to integrate locally-led development into all aspects of the agency’s work.

Before the hearing concluded, Chairman Castro asked Ms. Sumilas about the support USAID needs from Congress to achieve its localization goals. Ms. Sumilas urged Congress to incorporate locally-led development into new aid program authorizations. She also expressed the need for USAID to secure additional staff to meet compliance requirements and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in locally-led development. In both her response and in prior remarks from Chairman Castro, both stressed the opportunity to use the Centroamérica Local program as a model for future regional localization efforts.

To read Michele Sumilas’s opening statement, click here.

To view the hearing in full, click here.