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Rep. Jacobs and Sens. Coons, Ernst Introduce Bipartisan and Bicameral Bill to Prioritize Locally-Led Development and Humanitarian Aid; Passed by House Foreign Affairs Committee

Rep. Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-NE) introduced bipartisan and bicameral legislation yesterday to empower and bolster locally-led development and humanitarian assistance. The Locally Led Development and Humanitarian Response Act would increase effectiveness and improve transparency of USAID’s efforts to localize its partner base in implementing development and humanitarian assistance. The House Foreign Affairs Committee also passed this legislation today.


Both Republican and Democratic Administrations have recognized that U.S. foreign assistance is more effective and produces more lasting results when implemented by local organizations. Yet only 10% of USAID funding goes directly to local organizations, and the majority of funding still goes to large, U.S.-based implementing organizations. In 2021, USAID Administrator Samantha Power pledged to provide 25% of USAID funds to local partners and to ensure that 50% of USAID programs put local voices in the lead. 


Rep. Sara Jacobs, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, said: “It’s long overdue to rethink traditional ways of delivering development and humanitarian assistance – and instead look for ways to empower local communities so they can determine their own future. I’ve seen the power of localization during my time at the United Nations and UNICEF – and I know that it’s one of the best methods to ensure that U.S. development and humanitarian aid is sustainable, resilient, and successful, and to set local communities up for long-term success. That’s why I’m proud to lead the bipartisan and bicameral Locally Led Development and Humanitarian Response Act that would support USAID’s efforts to ensure that we’re following the lead of local communities, who know the challenges they’re facing and how to solve them better than we do. I’m glad the House Foreign Affairs Committee has already passed this legislation, and I will keep working with my House and Senate partners to get this over the finish line.”


“Development and humanitarian assistance are more effective and sustainable when local communities drive assistance goals and implementation,” said Senator Coons. “After all, local communities often know best where resources are needed and how assistance can be implemented most effectively to meet local needs. The Locally Led Development and Humanitarian Response Act will push a larger share of funding directly to local leaders, reduce burdens on local partners, and create incentives for USAID to strengthen projects led by local communities. I’m proud to introduce this bill with Senator Ernst and hope the Senate will swiftly take up our legislation.”


Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa said): “I have been tirelessly working to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent discerningly and efficiently. While USAID has resisted my previous oversight, I’m taking bipartisan action to clarify USAID’s policies to ensure they are localizing needs and ending abuses of taxpayer dollars, so developing countries reduce their dependence on U.S. dollars.”


The Locally Led Development and Humanitarian Response Act would:

  • Authorize USAID to accept applications or proposals in languages other than English and direct USAID to assess options to provide support and translation services for local languages;
  • Authorize USAID to increase the de minimis indirect cost rate to 15% for local entities receiving USAID assistance awards;
  • Authorize USAID to allow a 180-day delay for local entities to register in the System for Award Management;
  • Authorize USAID to award contracts or other acquisition instruments in which competition is limited to local entities if doing so would result in cost savings, strengthen local capacity, or enable more sustainable programs;
  • Authorize USAID to allow foreign entities to use national or international generally accepted accounting principles for contracts or grants awarded;
  • Require USAID to submit an annual report on progress to advance locally-led development and humanitarian response, including funding implemented directly and indirectly by local entities, an assessment of how USAID is enabling more local leadership of USAID-funded programs, an assessment of progress implementing localization-focused strategies and policies, an assessment of how organizations utilize provisional NICRA rates, and an assessment of how USAID is using new authorities granted in the legislation;
  • Require USAID to submit a report on recruitment and retention of contracting officers and agreement officers.