Clinton Outlines QDDR Recommendations At Launch Event

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton released the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) on Wednesday at the State Department, “pledging to focus more on conflict prevention and elevate the roles of U.S. ambassadors in coordinating the work of all U.S. agencies working abroad,” the Washington Post reports (Sheridan, 12/16).

“Clinton, in presenting a two-year review that has been one of her signature projects, declared that ‘leading through civilian power saves lives and money.’ … By cutting costs and redundant programs, Mrs. Clinton said the State Department could expand its role,” the New York Times writes (Landler, 12/15). In addition to the emphasis on civilian power, the nearly 200 page report “is a blueprint of how the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) can … help poor countries develop and build global coalitions to address global problems,” CNN reports. At the event, Clinton also “pledged to ‘improve the way we manage contracts and procurement by rebalancing our workforce, enhancing oversight and accountability, and emphasizing local leadership.'”

“As you dig into this report,” Clinton said, “you’ll see it’s driven by two overarching factors, first is President [Barack] Obama’s focus on fiscal responsibility and efficiency throughout the federal government. Through the review, we have tried to minimize costs, maximize impacts, avoid overlap and duplication and focus on delivering results,” the news service writes (Dougherty, 12/15). “The second factor is a rapidly shifting global landscape,” Clinton said, noting that “a wide array of states, institutions, and non-state actors” have the ability to influence global affairs, according to a State Department transcript from the event (12/15).

The content of the QDDR is very similar to the draft document that came out last month, Foreign Policy’s blog “The Cable” writes. It “proposes a host of new organizations to be established within the State Department,” according to the blog.

“USAID will immediately assume the leadership of Feed the Future, a program meant to combat hunger worldwide. The Global Health Initiative will also transition to USAID control by 2012. The document also proposes to ‘[e]mpower and hold accountable Chiefs of Mission as CEOs of multi-agency missions and engage them in high-level interagency decision-making in Washington,'” the blog reports (Rogin, 12/15). In her remarks at the event, Clinton promised to make “our aid more transparent by, among other steps, creating a new web-based dashboard that will publish data on State and USAID foreign assistance,” according to the transcript (12/15).

The QDDR also also aims to make USAID the “‘premier development organisation in the world’ through new hires and new responsibilities,” Inter Press Service writes. “It also calls for stronger relationships with the countries in which the U.S. works and a focus on key investment areas, particularly the rights of women and girls,” the news service writes (Berger, 12/15).

The Associated Press/Seattle Times notes: “No price tag is associated with the changes, which are being presented as a new Congress prepares to be seated next month” (12/15). At a press conference after the release of the document, State Department Policy Planning Director Anne-Marie Slaughter “acknowledged that while the goal of the QDDR is to find ways to do things more efficiently, some of the proposed initiatives will require additional funding,” according to “The Cable.” She also “said that the organizational changes can be implemented without congressional authorization and that implementation will begin on Jan. 1. Certain specific items, such as new counterterrorism positions at State, will require congressional approval. She said that ‘well over 50 percent’ of the initiatives in the report can be implemented without further authorizations,” the blog writes (12/15).

“Several nongovernmental organizations praised the report, including Oxfam,” CNN reports. “Paul O’Brien, vice president of policy and advocacy campaigns for Oxfam America, noted however, ‘The secretary’s vignette of a jeep driven by a diplomat with a development expert in the front seat is compelling, but what happens when there is a fork in the road?'” (12/15). “InterAction, a network of U.S.-based NGOs focused on global poverty, echoed O’Brien’s concern, though,by pointing out that the State Department would have some oversight over foreign assistance and development strategies and that this could, again, lead to political objectives overriding development ones,” IPS writes (12/15).

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