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Posted at 4:37 PM ET, 11/17/2010

Catnip for policy wonks: Clinton's QDDR

By Glenn Kessler

Nothing delights denizens of Washington more than proposals for new boxes on organizational charts. So the Obama administration's long-awaited Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review should be a huge seller.

Even the name bespeaks Important Thinking. The project was the brainchild of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who fashioned it after the Pentagon's quadrennial review of the nation's military posture. She believed that a scheduled review of development aid -- and how to integrate it with U.S. diplomatic efforts -- was necessary to keep development efforts fresh. (Never mind that her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, had done her own review of foreign aid, which resulted in grabbing some power away from USAID.)

The administration sent a draft summary to Congress Wednesday, and it is filled with ideas that aid specialists and members of Congress can chew over for months. New assistant secretaries! New titles! New missions! New hires! But, of course, no price tag was attached.

Time to dig in.


First reaction, from Todd Shelton, InterAction's senior director of policy:

"The tension inherent in the draft is the same one that has been playing out over the past 14 months of the QDDR process -- namely how to 'Build USAID as the World's Premier Development Agency' on the one hand, and integrate both the diplomatic and development components into what is being called "civilian power" on the other. As
InterAction said in our response to Secretary Clinton's recent essay in Foreign Affairs magazine, we agree that diplomacy and development should be coordinated and complement one another, but the two should not be confused as the same thing."

"From a development expert perspective, the QDDR PowerPoint appears to give with one hand but take away with the other. It talks about building USAID's capacity in a variety of ways. For example, it formally recognizes the new budget office at USAID, but then makes clear its recommendations will be subject to review and final approval by the Deputy Secretary of State. USAID also will have the lead in formulating the development component of "integrated strategies" referred to in the draft but the chief of mission at an embassy will have the final say on the strategy, which forms the basis for budget requests. The draft calls for expanding USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives while reinforcing that it must report in-country to the embassy chief of mission."

By Glenn Kessler  | November 17, 2010; 4:37 PM ET
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"The move of S/CRS to the oversight of the new Under Secretary can be interpreted in many ways. While a demotion in reporting, the Coordinator has never really had the advantages of an “S/” office so this could provide greater integration with the Department through a more consistent oversight at the U/S level. S/CRS was designed to address interagency collaboration issues on behalf of the Secretary but unlike other coordination offices (counterterrorism) is now buried where its mandate will not be as clear."

Posted by: judgenot | November 18, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

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