Investing in Our Shared Future

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Investing in Our Shared Future

Cabinet Exit Memo | 2017
Gayle E. Smith

Investing in Our Shared Future

How a Confident and Capable USAID is Building on a Proud Legacy of U.S. Development Leadership

Cabinet Exit Memo | 2017 | Administrator Gayle E. Smith


Next: The Global Development Challenge

For 55 years, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has led our nation’s efforts to advance dignity and prosperity around the world, not only as an expression of core American values but also in pursuit of U.S. national security and economic interests. In more than 100 countries, we work to foster inclusive economic growth, save lives, strengthen democratic governance, and promote long-term stability. From ending extreme poverty to meeting urgent humanitarian needs whenever and wherever a disaster strikes, we are on the front lines of many of today’s greatest global challenges.

Today, USAID is better positioned than ever before to meet these challenges and deliver transformative impact around the world. Over the last eight years, President Obama’s signature development initiatives have reduced poverty, malnutrition, and mortality, all while spurring entrepreneurship and innovation, empowering women and girls, and helping to build more stable, accountable, and inclusive partners for the United States. Whether we are combating hunger, preventing the spread of deadly diseases, or increasing access to education and clean energy, we are achieving real results that change people’s lives for the better – despite the often harsh realities of the sharp-edged world we live in.

But we can’t do this alone. That’s why we partner across the U.S. Government with agencies ranging from the Department of Agriculture to the Overseas Private Investment Corporation to NASA. That’s why we have revitalized relationships with great institutions of higher learning, here in the U.S. and abroad. We have strengthened relationships with communities of faith, and engagement with the private sector is now fully embedded in the way we do business. We have collaborated meaningfully with developing country governments and civil society to sustain progress. And, we have worked to deepen the bipartisan consensus on development rooted in the Kerry-Frist Global AIDS bill of 2002 and President Bush’s launch of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003.

Working hand-in-hand with all of these diverse partners, there is no challenge too great. But the road ahead won’t be easy: for all of the impressive gains the global community has achieved, there are far too many people dying of diseases we can prevent. Too many kids go to bed hungry each night. And too many people are denied the most basic of human rights. And we know too well how lack of opportunity and human dignity can fuel the conflict and instability that puts all of us at risk. So, as President Obama has said, “development isn’t charity. It’s one of the smartest investments we can make in our shared future – in our security and our prosperity.”

That’s why President Obama elevated development as a core pillar of American foreign policy, on par with defense and diplomacy. It’s why he called on USAID to lead, and for all of us working in development to step up our game: to invest in research and innovation, to follow where the evidence leads, and to reduce dependence on foreign aid over the long run.

I am so proud of how USAID and our community of partners have worked to realize the President’s vision. By pursuing tough reforms, we have become more transparent, accountable, and agile. By strengthening our policy and analytic capabilities, we have harnessed an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience to benefit our national security. By focusing our efforts where we can have the greatest impact and investing in force multipliers such as science, innovation, technology, and partnership, we have accelerated our impact and made taxpayer dollars go further than ever before.

In short, USAID is becoming the development agency the world deserves. And we have continued a powerful and lasting American legacy of global leadership. It has been an honor to serve President Obama and lead the extraordinary team at USAID, and I am pleased to share a brief look at what we have accomplished – both in achieving transformative impact around the world and strengthening the Agency – and how our country can build on this progress into the future. 

Next: The Global Development Challenge

Last updated: January 09, 2017

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