Wilson Center’s Sewell weighs in on QDDR

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In a recent post on the Wilson Center’s “The New Security Beat” blog, senior scholar John Sewell offers his perspective on the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), which was released in December.

Sewell applauds the QDDR’s effort to empower the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), particularly around giving leadership of President Obama’s signature initiatives on food security and global health to USAID.  He also highlights the internal reform agenda undertaken by the Agency, called “USAID Forward,” which places a premium on evaluation and results.

The key question for Sewell is how well will the QDDR be implemented.  He lists several challenges to effective implementation, including:

  • support from Congress (“New legislation undoubtedly will be needed. Without congressional support, it will be hard to effect all the reforms called for in both documents.”);
  • culture change at State and USAID;
  • defining the process for selecting which countries receive U.S. assistance (“So, will the choices be driven by focus areas and need? Or will immediate political issues continue to drive country choice?”);
  • budget authority (“But in the real world, there will be strong differences of opinion between State and USAID, and how they are reconciled is never mentioned.”); and
  • timeline (“Some can be put in place quickly and many are underway; others will take much longer, and some, presumably, will require new legislation…If everything is a priority, overload will result.”).

Sewell provides a recipe for achieving the impact the QDDR hopes to achieve: “If the QDDR is to succeed it must have strong administration support, a congressional group (preferably bipartisan) to craft needed legislation, and strong support from civil society organizations and business.”

What do you think of his analysis?

To read the entire piece, click here.

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