QDDR to call for focus on civilian crisis response, stronger role for USAID

A draft summary of the Department of State’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) reveals that the review will call for a stronger focus on civilian response to conflict situations, as well as a stronger role for USAID in executing President Obama’s two main foreign aid initiatives (Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative), the Washington Post recently reported. The QDDR summary was presented to congressional staffers in a sneak preview in late November.

The QDDR, which according to the Post is “Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s answer to the Pentagon’s QDR (Quadrennial Defense Review)” and is meant to help the State Department set its priorities as well as justify its budget to the U.S. Congress, is expected to be finalized in mid-December. Its implementation will then be overseen by the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources along with the USAID Administrator.

According to a Power Point Presentation by the Department of State and USAID and provided by the Post, Secretary Clinton launched the Review – “an ongoing commitment to review, right-size and institutionalize reform” – more than a year ago “to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of State and USAID in delivering results for the American taxpayer, by modernizing their capabilities and aligning their efforts as core pillars of America’s civilian power.”

The sneak preview revealed a few major issues the QDDR will focus on:

  • Integrating public diplomacy as a core diplomatic mission throughout the Department;
  • Embracing conflict prevention and response as a core mission, for example by creating a new office of an Undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights and by having this office expand diplomatic efforts beyond dialogue with foreign ministries to key nongovernmental players;
  • Strengthening USAID’s role in implementing President Obama’s major development programs in agriculture and health, and substantially increasing mid-level hires at USAID.

According to the Post, aid groups have reacted with criticism to the fact that, based on the sneak preview, the QDDR will likely not resolve the question of whether development shall ultimately fall under the auspices of the State Department or those of USAID.