Secretary Clinton Holds Town Hall Meeting at USAID on the QDDR

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
December 17, 2010

Secretary Clinton and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah spoke today on the First Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), "Leading Through Civilian Power," at a town hall meeting at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Secretary Clinton said, "Nearly two years ago, at my Senate confirmation hearing, I spoke about the need for the United States to use all three elements of our power: development, diplomacy, and defense. And one year ago...at the Center for Global Development, I outlined a new approach to development, one that brought new rigor, new coordination, and a new commitment to results to our programs worldwide.

"Then three months ago the White House released the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, the first by any administration in history, which offered additional guidelines for pursuing a robust 21st century development agenda. And now with the QDDR, we have a comprehensive program of reform to help us achieve that agenda. So while this review will have a major impact on both State and USAID, it will affect many agencies across our government. It represents a milestone in the long and continuing process of rethinking and reinvigorating your core mission. And the QDDR helps us move closer to another goal, one that is a top priority for the Obama Administration: to rebuild USAID as the lead development agency of the United States and the premier development agency in the entire world.

"Now, the QDDR does not represent a complete overhaul of our nation's work in either development or diplomacy. Much of what we do we already do very well. But the recommendations in this report are targeted and specific, and they cover a wide range of operations, from the equipment we provide to our officers in the field to the strategies we rely on in response to crisis, to how we recruit talent and formulate our budgets. All told, we believe that implementing this review will make us more efficient, more effective, more innovative, more transparent, and more accountable. Let me just briefly describe the recommendations that fall into four broad categories.

"The first is transforming development to deliver results, to work more effectively with partner countries to generate economic growth, decrease poverty, increase opportunity. Delivering results means targeting our investments, making smart, strategic choices about where we will and where we will not dedicate our resources. Going forward, we will focus on six areas of excellence where we have the most expertise and ability and where improvements, we believe, will yield the broadest benefits across societies and countries: food security, global health, climate change, sustainable economic growth, democracy and governance, and humanitarian assistance. And in each of these areas, we are supporting women and girls, who are often the most effective drivers of progress.

"...Now, moving forward, we will create a development lab here at USAID, a first of its kind venture that will find game changing innovations and connect them through our development goals. We will also create an innovation fellowship to bring two dozen leading development thinkers to USAID to help us drive discovery. And we are making our aid more transparent by, among other steps, creating a new web-based dashboard that will publish data on State and USAID foreign assistance. It just launched earlier this week at www.foreignassistance.gov.

"Now, investments like these may originate in Washington, but as always, the true measure of their value will be determined in the far reaches of the world every day in the work of U.S. diplomats and development experts and our partners. And that brings us to the QDDR's second area of focus: improving diplomacy and development work in the field, starting with better integration and coordination among the dozens of American civilian agencies that have a presence overseas.

"An overarching goal of the QDDR is to marshal the full effects of our nation's civilian power. Our civilian power is obviously critical to our leadership, but it is often hobbled our own failure to better coordinate and maximize the impact of the American team -- not the USAID or the State or the USDA or the DOJ or anybody else, but the American team. And it is one of the ways that we can try better to coordinate and integrate our civilian efforts that are too often fragmented and disconnected.

"In some countries, USAID, State, Agriculture, Energy, and others are all working on complementary projects, sometimes in the same building, but not together. There is no unified leadership. This must change. In an atmosphere of tighter and tighter budgets, we will rise together or fall separately. We cannot afford redundancies, duplication, and so much else that has undercut our ability to deliver on America's goals. So the QDDR lays out a plan for empowering Chiefs of Mission to direct and coordinate all U.S. civilian programs in each country while also having more of a voice in the policymaking process here in Washington. The USAID mission director will be the development advisor to the chief of mission, and USAID Foreign Service officers will be eligible to serve as chiefs of mission themselves. I just swore in a very effective USAID mission director as an ambassador, and I am looking for more. So that is a pledge I make to you.

"Empowering chiefs of mission to provide much needed leadership is an organizational fix to a serious problem. But on its own, it's not enough. Inclusive leadership and successful collaboration cannot be achieved through reforms alone. It has a lot to do with attitudes and mindsets. We're each called upon to make a sincere personal commitment to working together toward shared goals, whether we're in country or in Washington. We need to care more about getting results and less about guarding our turf. And I want to emphasize this is a message that I've delivered to State and I've delivered to our sister agencies throughout the government, because everybody has to make progress. We learned a lot about how all of the agencies in the federal government are now trying to stake out their own turf, have their own lines, do their own work, and that is just a recipe for disaster and failure. So we are working hard to avoid that.

"Beyond coordination, we're also making organizational changes to some of the bureaus at State to reflect the rise of new threats and our new integrated approach to connected issues. And we're stepping up engagement beyond governments by building stronger ties with the private sector, NGOs, civil society, and certainly citizens of other nations.

"The QDDR's third area of focus is improving how we prevent and respond to crises and conflicts. That has to be a core mission of both State and USAID. Whether we are responding to an earthquake, preventing a country from dissolving into violence after a disputed election, bringing a swift end to violence if it does occur, our ability to prevent fragile states from becoming failed states is critical to the security of our nation and the world as a whole. And it demands both diplomatic and development intervention. So the QDDR lays out a number of recommendations how State and USAID can work more closely together in this area.

"Fourth and finally, the QDDR focuses on helping us work better by working smarter, including how we manage contracts and procurement, something that Raj and the team here is really ahead of the curve on; how we run our planning and budget processes and how we set goals and measurements that will really explain what we do to ourselves, to each other, and to the public.

"...Now, I know that USAID Forward and the QDDR represent a change to the status quo. Change is not easy, but these reforms also represent a vote of confidence in USAID, confidence that you can and will make the changes that are needed to continue to build a modern, efficient, world class, leading development agency. Now, with that vote of confidence does come the responsibility to deliver, and I know and trust that you will.

"We've already made progress, and we need to keep moving ahead. We have a blueprint for our next steps, thanks to the QDDR. We have strong leadership with Administrator Shah and Deputy Administrator Steinberg and a wealth of assistant and deputy assistant administrators, and most importantly, the core group of AID employees who have been through all the ups and downs over the last 20 to 30 years. I am well aware of those ups and downs. My hope is to institutionalize reforms that will give AID the platform, the foundation, the strength to survive whatever political winds blow from whatever direction. I've been distressed, as I'm sure many of you have, to read recent comments in the paper from some present and future congressional members about cutting foreign aid and doing away with it and all the rest of it.

"So I am very confident we can make the case, but I want to underscore that the status quo is unsustainable. Without reform, without these changes, without this energetic push to deliver results, it will be very difficult to sustain the political and budgetary support that we will need going forward. Just when I think we are poised to reclaim ground that has been lost, we face a lot of difficult decisions. You will have with me a strong advocate in your corner, who is ready and willing to take the case to the Congress. But the best way we can sell what it is we need to do and the resources required to do it is by each and every one of you embracing the changes that are needed so we can say, in the one breath, the work we do is so important, it is one of the three pillars of foreign policy and national security, it needs the resources to be able to do that, and we're not standing still. We're asking ourselves the hardest possible questions, we are changing to be as transparent and evidence-driven and results-oriented as possible. And I think that is a winning argument."

You can read the complete transcript here. Additional information about the QDDR, including links to download the complete Report, is available here.

Comments

Comments

Oystercracker
|
United States
December 20, 2010

O.C. in the U.S.A. writes:

Sounds like a plan but what's taking so long? You could call it, "Development Happy Meal" or "Diplomacy in a box". Hey! Hey! Let's get this party started! Hoo! Hoo!

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