John Kerry launches 2nd QDDR: 'Not everything to everyone'

By Rolf Rosenkranz 22 April 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry officially launches the second Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review process at the State Department on April 22. Tom Perriello, who leads the QDDR process, as well as Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, look on. Photo by: Rolf Rosenkranz

The U.S. government’s second Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review will focus on a small number of concrete proposals that will help modernize foreign relations and serve as a “blueprint for America’s success in the world,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

State Department officials have been preparing for the review since at least last year, Kerry indicated. More than 100 aid experts and organizations, as well as congressional lawmakers, have already been consulted, and more meetings are planned in the coming days. On Wednesday, the State Department is hosting a town hall meeting for staff members who are interested in providing input on the second QDDR; the U.S. Agency for International Development will host a similar event soon.

Kerry said he wants members of the foreign aid and diplomatic communities to ask “tough questions and pull no punches.”

The QDDR 2.0, as it is sometimes called, will “not be everything to everyone,” Kerry warned, suggesting that the report will not be a “laundry list” of proposals but instead a limited, “concrete set of proposals” that will be both strategic and operational. Recommendations should be “grounded in real work,” narrow the distance between Washington and its field operations, empower diplomats and aid workers, and make U.S. foreign engagement “stronger” and “more innovative.” While Kerry didn’t go into specifics, he noted that the QDDR 2.0 will touch on ways to modernize foreign engagement, boost innovative solutions to global challenges and improve operations.

Read: QDDR 2.0: A few 'big ideas' but no 'complicated working groups'

“Our institutions remain strong by remaining dynamic,” Kerry told several hundred visitors in the State Department’s Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room. The QDDR 2.0 will build on its predecessor and serve as a “preview of what we have to do to seize the opportunities of tomorrow.”

USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said he wants the QDDR 2.0 to follow three principles: Development is a central pillar of U.S. foreign engagement and should be considered a key tool to ensure national security. The U.S. government should constantly innovate and engage with partners to drive global development results, and it should bring attention to the great accomplishments of the diplomatic and aid communities. (Shah gave a shout-out to the foreign aid “heroes.”)

Shah cited the recently launched U.S. Global Development Lab as an example for an idea included in the first QDDR that was eventually implemented.

“When we get good ideas from staff, we can do it,” Shah said before quipping: “It may take a few years…”

Read more on U.S. aid reform online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

About the author

Rolf rosenkranz 400x400
Rolf RosenkranzRolfRosenkranz

Rolf Rosenkranz oversees a talented team of in-house journalists, correspondents and guest contributors located around the globe. Since joining Devex in early 2008, Rolf has been instrumental in growing its fledgling news operation into the leading online source for global development news and analysis. Previously, Rolf was managing editor at Inside Health Policy, a subscription-based news service in Washington. He has reported from Africa for the Johannesburg-based Star and its publisher, Independent News & Media, as well as the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily.

Join the Discussion