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Building a 21st Century Workforce raises new questions February 25, 2009

Posted by Molly in Briefing.
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Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs, hosted a hearing this morning to address State and USAID personnel reform.  Former Ambassadors Thomas Pickering and Prudence Bushnell testified, as well as former USAID officer James Kunder.  Chairwoman Lowey injected a hint of controversy into the hearing with her incredulity that USAID can’t balance dual goals of national security and development.  As she said, “life is complicated!”  Read her opening statement here and here, and see the testimonies after the break.

Thomas Pickering spoke about the decrease in diplomatic staffing since the Cold War ended, summarizing the “Foreign Affairs Budget for the Future” recommendations for increased staff in diplomatic core, USAID, and stabilization experts.  He called for an improvement in public diplomacy initiatives, including American Cultural Centers.  When pressed for a price tag, Pickering estimated $3.286 billion on top of the baseline.  Read his full testimony here.

Bushnell called for better technology to improve public engagement, and better security and intelligence for embassies. Read her full testimony here.

Kunder talked about the critical role that PRTs are playing in Afghanistan, and how they need more trained ag officer sand engineers to do those jobs. Need to improve technology and training at State and AID to be a level on par with the army, including computer and management skills. Need the equivalent of the QDR for diplomacy and development. Read his full testimony here.

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