Development Community Reacts to QDDR's Release

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah. Photo by: USAID Afghanistan

After more than fourteen months and several delays, the State Department on Dec. 15 unveiled the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, which maps out sweeping reforms of U.S. foreign relations and development aid.

>> Clinton Unveils Final QDDR

Below are some of the reactions from members of the aid community on the QDDR:

“I welcome the release of the State Department’s first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.  After nearly two years of serious and deliberate work, this review will provide an important road map to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our diplomatic and development agencies.  The QDDR represents the kind of critical thinking we need to help us achieve our national security and foreign policy objectives.  I look forward to working with Secretary Clinton and Administrator Shah, as well as my colleagues in the Congress, as we consider legislation to implement the priorities identified in the QDDR.” - U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

“The QDDR represents an ambitious agenda filled with commitments to “do better.”  Operationalizing those commitments, and changing the culture required to do so will be difficult.  If State and USAID do not constructively engage with Congress, I can predict that many of the proposed changes will not see the light of day.” - Connie Veillette, Director of Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance Program at the Center for Global Development, wrote in a blog post.

“As part of the QDDR process, we will be making some changes in the structure of GHI in order to improve our coordination, make our investments more cost-effective, and better integrate our efforts to strengthen our partner countries’ abilities to sustain progress over time…These changes will not alter my role in leading PEPFAR, a duty established by Congress, nor will they move the coordination of the program out of the State Department or change the interagency model that has been so successful. However, these changes will help better integrate and link U.S. investments in communities impacted by HIV to the broader health and development investments in the developing world. Ultimately, the U.S. government will be better positioned to ensure a collaborative interagency effort, and make our investments more effective in saving money and saving lives.” - Eric Goosby,  U.S. global AIDS coordinator, wrote in a blog post published in DipNote, the official blog of the U.S. Department of State.

“There is seemingly much to like about the QDDR, such as its well-placed focus on the role of women and girls in peace-building and development, but the review raises many questions.  Ultimately, to make this type of review quadrennial in fact, rather than just in name, and to leave behind a legacy of institutional reform, the administration would do well to work closely with Congress. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has boldly chosen to try to fundamentally change the culture of the State Department—a large project to say the least. With the full 200+ page QDDR now available, expect to witness a lively debate on whether this is possible and whether progress is being made.” - Noam Unger, Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network principal and Brookings Institutions global economy and development fellow.

“The reforms outlined in the QDDR, in addition to ongoing efforts like USAID Forward, are central to making America’s development business model better. ONE applauds the move to focus leadership of the Administration’s two signature development initiatives - Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative. We will now look to USAID to demonstrate its ability to deliver on the admirable and critical outcomes promised by these two initiatives.” - ONE Chief Executive Officer David Lane, wrote in a statement.

“The QDDR reinforces many of the findings and proposals that have emerged after more than two years of hearings, briefings and roundtable discussions in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. By giving our diplomats and development professionals the right tools, adequate resources, and the flexibility to try new approaches, we can deliver cost-effective results and restore the confidence of the American people that their tax dollars are well-spent.” - Congressman Howard Berman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said as quoted by the MFAN blog.

“Critically, the QDDR endorses the suite of reforms we began earlier this year—USAID Forward—recognizing this Agency’s need to develop new systems and capacities to deliver against these new opportunities. We will continue to streamline our work and cut red-tape, transforming our Agency into a modern, efficient development enterprise. But we also must renew our engagement with our interagency partners in a spirit of inclusive leadership and cooperation, and focus thoughtfully, aggressively, and primarily on delivering results for those we serve.” - USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah wrote in  the “Impact” blog.

“With today’s release of the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), the Obama Administration has finalized its roadmap for how U.S. foreign aid can be made more effective, efficient, and accountable in the 21st century.  This is absolutely critical in a resource-constrained world where our efforts to save lives and help vulnerable people build their own livelihoods are as important as our military and diplomatic activities.” - David Beckmann and George Ingram, co-chairs of the reform coalition Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, wrote in a joint blog post published on the MFAN website.

“The challenge in implementing the review is that the administration will in some areas need new resources” and some parts require congressional action.” - Sam Worthington, president of InterAction, a coalition of U.S.-based relief groups, told Bloomberg.

“It’s all about implementation … As the Secretary said, the budget environment is tight. So getting some of this funded is going to be hard, especially when the Republicans are gunning for foreign aid,” Gordon Adams, former head of national security budgeting for Bill Clinton’s administration said as quoted by Josh Rogin of “The Cable.”

“The QDDR will ultimately be judged by whether or not the US government empowers development professionals and priorities to have more influence when our development and diplomatic goals come into tension. To that end, there is still much work to be done to resolve how an integrated approach will be resourced on the ground.” -  Paul O’Brien, Oxfam America’s vice president of policy and advocacy, said in a statement.

“The QDDR lays out a coordinated plan to meet the global challenges we face as a nation in the 21st century,” . “It builds upon the efforts begun under the Bush Administration to recognize the critical role of our civilian agencies and guide our development and diplomacy programs to become more effective and efficient.” - U.S. Global Leadership Coalition Board Member Mark Green said in a statement.

“The QDDR truly emphasizes the administration’s commitment to global development, providing hope that people around the world will receive the support, resources, and assistance they need … This is a major accomplishment for Bread for the World members who have pushed the administration and Congress on U.S. foreign aid reform. We are thrilled at the release of this review and look forward to bipartisan legislation to make these plans permanent.” - David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, said in a statement.

“[I]n making sure that US engagement with the rest of the world is more effective, efficient, and has maximum impact – as outlined in QDDR – we can focus on a few simple things: removing the development silos, integrating democracy and economic growth, building staff capacity to understand and implement democracy and economic growth programs, and focusing on institutional reform and development,” John Sullivan, executive director of the Center for International Private Enterprise, wrote in The Huffington Post.

“While the QDDR makes USAID the “lead agency” for the two big presidential initiatives on food security and global health, what that means in practice remains to be seen. Reforming a bureaucracy is never easy, but at least the QDDR now establishes a framework for improvement and removes some of the uncertainty of recent years that has further weakened an already demoralized USAID. Capitalizing on the QDDR will now require strong leadership, and at times sharp elbows, to implement the proposed changes and move the agency toward high-impact development.” - Isobel Coleman, senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy; director of the civil society, markets, and democracy initiative; and director of the women and foreign policy program for the Council on Foreign Relations.

Read the full QDDR document here.

About the author

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    Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.