After months of study, work, negotiation and anticipation, the Obama administration has announced its development policy. What’s new here and what are the chances of implementation? To find out, I chatted with Connie Veillette, who has recently joined the Center for Global Development as director of our Rethinking U.S. Foreign Assistance program. Connie comes to us from Capitol Hill, where she spent many years with the Congressional Research Service and worked most recently as a senior professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee minority staff, specializing in U.S. foreign assistance and USAID.
Connie explains that the new Presidential Policy Directive presents a comprehensive, big-picture look at American development programs. The policy (which, like previous policy directives, won’t be publicly released) outlines themes – country ownership, accountability and measurement of results, increased selectivity in aid spending, and more – that will guide U.S. development policy in the coming years. But, Connie warns, the document doesn’t in itself implement any specific policy changes. And the details of how the new policy is implemented will matter greatly.
On the Wonkcast, we discuss some of the details which Connie will be looking out for from her new perch at CGD. For example, while the policy directive foresees that U.S. development efforts will continue to be split among more than two dozen government agencies (!), it calls for a new interagency committee to coordinate all of those agencies. Connie explains that the specifics of how this committee is convened and managed have the potential to create drama. “Everyone loves a good turf battle,” she jokes. Nevertheless, her overall reaction to the policy is one of tempered optimism. “I expect that there will be better coordination with this policy than without this policy,” Connie says.
Listen to the Wonkcast to hear our full conversation, including a look ahead at the issues Connie hopes to tackle in her first months on the job here at CGD. Have something to add? Ideas for future interviews? Post a comment below, or send me an email. If you use iTunes, you can subscribe to get new episodes delivered straight to your computer every week.
My thanks to Wren Elhai for his very able production assistance on the Wonkcast recording and for drafting this blog post.