When is a meeting not a meeting? The President’s Global Development Council was set to have its inaugural meeting today, but sent out cancellation notices yesterday. The kicker: most of the council members met this morning with high-level US government officials. The only difference, as far as I can tell, is that the meeting (er, non-meeting?) took place without President Obama and the public.
The official notification for the already once-rescheduled July 9th President’ Global Development Council meeting went up at the end of June. Here’s the note that went out yesterday afternoon:
From: FN-WHO-Interest_GDC [mailto:Interest_GDC@who.eop.gov]
Sent: Monday, July 08, 2013 2:39 PM
Subject: POSTPONED: July 9 meeting
Thank you for your interest in attending the President's Global Development Council meeting.
The July 9 meeting has been postponed. A new meeting date and time will be forthcoming.
Despite the postponement, members of the council met this morning with US government officials and others to talk about President Obama’s recent trip to Africa and the Power Africa initiative, among other topics. So is that a meeting or not a meeting?
If the council met and had an agenda and a robust conversation about US development policy, this is good news. But the buzz in town about whether it happened or not—and why all the confusion—makes the council look bad and risks marring the otherwise good vision and opportunity to promote smarter US global development policy at the White House and beyond.