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Politico Examines Reactions To Obama’s Development Policy

“The U.S. development community is pronouncing itself ‘thrilled’ with the Obama administration’s recently unveiled new development policy,” Politico’s Laura Rozen reports on her blog, which examines reaction to President Barack Obama’s speech at the U.N. Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) last week. “While the [Presidential Policy Directive] PPD, as an internal White House document, has not been publicly released, officials and development community sources say it closely tracks with this White House fact sheet on the policy,” released last week, the blog writes.

However, “[o]ne lingering concern for some in the U.S. development community is the fact that the PPD formalized what has been U.S. policy since 1999 in asserting that the USAID administrator formally reports to the Secretary of State. While that has been existing practice for more than a decade, it was the first time it was made explicit, development sources said,” the blog writes, noting the desire among “some in the field – many of whom get funding from USAID –” to have a “more autonomous and enhanced USAID.”

The blog continues, “‘The PPD affirms that S’ – the Secretary of State – ‘will ensure that development and diplomacy are effectively coordinated and mutually reinforcing in the operation of foreign policy,’ a person familiar with the policy directive said on condition of anonymity. ‘It is very clear that S will coordinate all foreign assistance on any issue that is not directly taken on by the [National Security Council] NSC.'”

The blog post includes reactions to the strategy by Oxfam America’s director for aid effectiveness Greg Adams, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and John D. Lawrence, head of Congressional Affairs for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.

The blog also quotes an unnamed member of the development community: “‘On paper, USAID’s position in the bureaucracy is diminished relative to State,’ he said on condition of anonymity. ‘But it remains to be seen who at State will take the time to use the enhanced authorities,’ he said, noting that two key State Department officials on development policy plan to leave their jobs later this year – Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew to become Obama’s head of Office of Management and Budget, and State Policy Planning Chief Anne-Marie Slaughter, who has said she plans to return to Princeton University” (9/27).

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