Searching for the Holy Grail: The Evolution of USAID Legislative Support Programming
Sociology and Anthropology
Over the past three decades the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has undertaken programming designed to support legislatures in playing their role as an integral part of democratic governance. The particular areas of emphasis in programming have evolved due to experience gained, shifting policy priorities, and changes in resource levels. The parabola of assistance arcs from a) basic legislative technical and material assistance to b) an emphasis on legislative modernization
... e modernization plans and champions to c) a broader-based legislative "engagement" approach linking legislative support activities with cross-sectoral policy development and implementation. The latter approach is designed to foster economic and social development. We explore the reasons for this evolution and posit that there has been a move in the direction of USAID programming to support activities to promote integrated and broader development goals. We suggest that there are problems and challenges related to this approach; legislative engagement is not necessarily the alpha and omega of legislative functioning. We conclude however, that despite these challenges, ignoring the interface between legislative support and development may negatively impact the attainment of developmental goals and marginalize legislative support as a subject worthy of USAID focus.