NGO community likes State’s QDDR but worried about implementation
Several non-governmental organizations praised the State Department’s first- ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which was released on Wednesday, while others pointed out what they see as the shortcomings of the document and worried about whether it could ever be implemented. One huge issue is whether Congress, where power in the House is about ...
Several non-governmental organizations praised the State Department's first- ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which was released on Wednesday, while others pointed out what they see as the shortcomings of the document and worried about whether it could ever be implemented.
Several non-governmental organizations praised the State Department’s first- ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which was released on Wednesday, while others pointed out what they see as the shortcomings of the document and worried about whether it could ever be implemented.
One huge issue is whether Congress, where power in the House is about to shift from Democratic to Republican hands, will properly fund the initiatives in the QDDR. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke extensively on Wednesday about how she sees the QDDR as a document that can justify funding for diplomacy and development next year, while also rebuilding the capacity of USAID and reforming the way the State Department does business both at home and abroad.
"Through the QDDR, Secretary Clinton and [USAID] Administrator [Rajiv] Shah have demonstrated their commitment to changing the way we do business and increasing the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of our foreign affairs agencies," said outgoing House Foreign Affairs Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA). "I look forward to working with them, along with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, to institutionalize durable reforms that protect national security, advance global prosperity and promote shared values."
The new incoming chairwoman, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), didn’t have an immediate reaction to the report, but pledged earlier this month to use her perch to reduce funding for both the State Department and foreign operations.
"It’s all about implementation," said Gordon Adams, former head of national security budgeting for the Clinton White House. "As the Secretary said, the budget environment is tight. So getting some of this funded is going to be hard, especially when the Republicans are gunning for foreign aid."
Adams, who also teaches at American University and works on budget issues at the Stimson Center, released a scorecard on Wednesday pointing out the successes and shortcomings of the review. For example, it said that the QDDR does a good job of laying out the major goals and challenges facing American diplomatic efforts but fails to "prioritize roles and missions and provide metrics for success."
Similarly, the QDDR succeeds at outlining the need for more budgetary planning and coordination but lacks sufficient detail about the process to link budget decisions to personnel and management changes, Adams’ scorecard noted.
Various development organizations praised the report on Wednesday, and pledged to keep a close eye on the changes as the implementation process moves forward.
For example, the ONE Campaign, an organization dedicated to combating extreme poverty, praised the decision to give big development initiatives to USAID.
"ONE applauds the move to focus leadership of the Administration’s two signature development initiatives – Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative," said CEO David Lane. "We will now look to USAID to demonstrate its ability to deliver on the admirable and critical outcomes promised by these two initiatives."
Several praised the Clinton team for completing the review, but noted that its success or failure will be determined by actions, not the words on the page.
"I have seen many exhaustive reviews during my time in both Congress and the Cabinet, and while no one may ever remember the acronym, the QDDR will have a tremendous impact in ensuring our civilian programs are more effective and efficient," said U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Chairman Dan Glickman.
Paul O’Brien, vice president of policy and advocacy campaigns for Oxfam America, noted that while the QDDR clearly puts ambassadors and chiefs of missions at the head of country teams as the so-call "CEOs" of American diplomacy, it doesn’t tackle how the inevitable conflicts between short-term foreign policy objectives and longer-term development goals are resolved.
"The QDDR is an important step in reaffirming the efforts to modernize USAID and further elevate it as ‘the world’s premier development agency. But the document leaves open the question of how the United States will resolve situations where diplomacy and development will require different approaches and tradeoffs," he said.
David Beckmann and George Ingram, co-chairs of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN), called for the reforms in the QDDR to be codified in law through corresponding congressional action.
"These reforms would pay major dividends in terms of lives saved and improved around the world — and they would make sure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are getting into the hands of people who need them. But they will only have lasting impact if the Administration and bipartisan Members of Congress work together to develop and pass legislation that establishes them in law," they said in a statement.
Clinton acknowledged most of these concerns in her town hall meeting in Foggy Bottom on Wednesday morning and promised that the QDDR release will be the beginning, not the end, of the reform process.
"I’m determined that this report will not merely gather dust, as did so many before it," she said, adding with a smile, "I’m looking forward to the many challenges of implementation."
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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