PNSR Salutes Rep. Howard Berman on House Approval of Authorization for U.S. Diplomacy and Development Efforts

June 18, 2009 in News by admin

WASHINGTON– The Project on National Security Reform (PNSR) congratulates Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-CA) of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for his leadership in securing House passage of comprehensive legislation to strengthen U.S. foreign policy efforts. The full Congress has not enacted a foreign affairs authorization since the final months of fiscal year 2002. Foreign affairs authorization bills are essential for effective congressional oversight of the conduct of foreign affairs. The regular passage of such an authorization bill is a key recommendation of the Project on National Security Reform.

The bill (HR 2410) would authorize programs for two years; fiscal 2010 and 2011. About $18 billion is authorized for fiscal 2010, an amount that matches the administration’s request.

The bill includes language that reflects several recommendations found in PNSR’s report, Forging a New Shield, in the areas of strategic management, knowledge management and human capital. In particular, the bill would:
• require the president to present a national security strategy for U.S. diplomacy and development every 4 years, similar to the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review.
• require the establishment of a Lessons Learned Center (LLC) within the Department of State. The LLC would collect, analyze, archive and disseminate observations, practices and lessons learned by Foreign Service Officers and support personnel at Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The purpose is to increase, enhance and sustain the ability of the department and agency to fulfill their missions.
• authorize the Secretary of State to add 1500 new Foreign Service officers (FSO) over the next two years. USAID would be authorized to hire 700 more members over the next two years as well.
• provide for training in conflict mitigation and resolution as well as in how to proceed in unstable situations. Additionally, members of the Foreign Service would be able to obtain advanced education and training in academic and other institutions to improve the diplomatic corps’ ability to respond to modern challenges.

The Senate Foreign Relations committee has not yet scheduled a markup of a comprehensive State Department authorization bill.