Monday, September 18, 2006

Transformational Diplomacy: Sharing the Vision

Event Title: Transformational Diplomacy: Sharing the Vision
Sponsors: The Washington DC Chapter of the Society for International Development (SID)
Location: Chemonics International, 2nd Floor Auditorium
Date: September 14, 2006
Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:00p.m.
Intern Attending: Saadiqa Lundy

Speaker: Ambassador Randall L. Tobias, Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and U.S.A.I.D Administrator

“Foreign assistance is an essential component of our transformational diplomacy. In today’s world, American security is linked to the capacity of foreign states to govern justly and effectively.” -Condoleezza Rice

In today’s event the new Director of Foreign Assistance, Ambassador Tobias, spoke about transforming the US approach to Foreign Assistance. Tobias stressed the need for a new foreign assistance strategy based on an integrated, transparent, coherent, strategic system. According to Tobias, this strategy is needed because we currently do not have one, and “the system we are working with is broken.”

The amount of foreign assistance the US provides to its partners has recently increased. However, because we lack an effective foreign assistance framework, we have no way of finding out whether the assistance we provide to other countries is truly making an impact. Therefore, Tobias concluded that we must find common indicators to assess performance; an integrated and coherent tactical plan. This will help to manage change and implement change more effectively. In addition, creating a single, coordinated strategy will enable local government, NGO’s, Congress and civil society to know where and how money is being spent and what it is trying to achieve. This will serve to minimize the number of incoherent policies, ineffective programs, and the misuse of public resources. As an example, Tobias said that he had spoken to someone from a foreign country and that this person mentioned that their country received foreign assistance from 21 different US organizations. This is something that Tobias hopes to prevent from happening.

Tobias has already begun making changes by combining staff from both the State Department and USAID to coordinate foreign assistance activities, and by 2008 he plans to have a comprehensive foreign assistance budget. Tobias hopes to coordinate US foreign assistance in order to achieve the overarching goal of “helping to build and sustain democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system.”

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