New Bill Aims To Promote Federal Agency Collaboration On Foreign Aid, National Security

House lawmakers recently introduced the 2010 Interagency National Security Professional Education, Administration and Development System Act in an effort to promote better “collaboration among federal agencies supporting security missions and foreign aid operations overseas,” Government Executive reports.

The bill, which was introduced by Reps. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) and Geoff Davis (R-Ky.), “aims to break down agency-centric cultures, incentives and structures within the national security system,” the publication writes. Skelton “cited coordination problems between the Defense Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development in Afghanistan, where conflicting goals have undermined credibility and wasted money” (Peters, 10/1).

“The bill would require senior-level federal employees with national security roles in at least 13 agencies from the departments of Homeland Security to Treasury to Agriculture to Health and Human Services to undergo specific training and education requirements, and spend at least two years on detail to another agency,” Federal News Radio reports. It would also authorize a group of universities to create training programs and also “calls for agencies to establish pilot programs for education and training of these workers within a year of the law’s enactment,” the news service writes (Miller, 9/30).

The legislation is based, in part, on the 1986 Goldwater Nichols Defense Reorganization Act, according to Government Executive. “Goldwater-Nichols is credited with changing the service-centric cultures of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force by requiring military officers to obtain joint experience and education for promotion,” Government Executive writes (10/1).

“If we look at our national security apparatus as whole, I believe it is broken,” said Davis at press briefing on Capitol Hill, according to Federal News Radio. “It doesn’t communicate between the agencies because there is not an ability to understand both the priorities of the organization and a common mission,” he added.

Skelton said the bill aims to create a “new interagency national security culture.” He continued, “We looked at lessons learned from Goldwater-Nichols and came up with a plan to create the right incentives and the right system to develop interagency national security professionals across the government. The genius of Goldwater-Nichols is that you had to have joint education and joint experience. This bill would apply those same rules to our interagency system” (9/30).

According to CNN: “The bill is not expected to be debated this year, with Congress adjourned until after the November 2 congressional elections, Skelton said” (9/30).   

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