This week the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a nomination hearing
for John Danilovich
to be Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation
. CGD's Kaysie Brown, our new research assistant working on MCA related issues, attended the meeting and provides the following report:Overall, the Committee-represented at the hearing by Committee Chair Sen. Richard Lugar
(R-IN), Sen. Russ Feingold
(D-WI) and Sen. Norm Coleman
(R-MN)-did not appear to object to Mr. Danilovich, who was subjected to mostly polite questioning by the three Senators in attendance. Instead, the Senators' questions focused much more on concerns about the MCC itself, rather than on Mr. Danilovich as CEO.On the positive side, Mr. Danilovich sounded many of the right notes when the discussion turned to refining and strengthening the government corporation. In particular, Danilovich is supportive of enhancing MCA guidance to countries earlier on in the process as well as of providing much larger compacts to eligible countries, which he believes is key to guaranteeing the transformative nature of the program.Danilovich's support on Capitol Hill could be a valuable asset for the MCC. Indeed, the strength and vitality of the MCC will be based in large part on the presence of a CEO who can reach out to Congress and mobilize bipartisan support for the program, which has been the subject of increasing questions and concerns over the past several months.However, the relatively light scrutiny given to this nomination was offset by consistent rounds of questions about the effective and timely use of budget funds. With the recovery effort in the Gulf Coast region and the war in Iraq gobbling up ever larger pieces of the federal pie, the Senators returned several times to the pressing issue of speeding up MCA projects and delivering results as a way of increasing the confidence level of Congress. As Senator Lugar stated:
As new compacts are being concluded, we must ensure that U.S. taxpayer funds are closely monitored and the process for selecting countries and evaluating proposals is carried out in a transparent process...The enthusiasm members of Congress will have for the MCC in a difficult budgetary climate will depend greatly on the results the agency achieves and the effeciency of its activities.
Other queries concerned MCC's monitoring and evaluation procedures in compact countries, the role of contractors on the ground in M&E, preventing duplication of programs by other donors such as the World Bank, and the relationship between USAID and the MCC. These are the questions that supporters of the MCC will be asking, and Danilovich and his team would do well to address, as the nomination process continues.It is expected that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will meet as soon as next week at a business meeting to vote on Mr. Danilovich. If he passes this stage, which looks likely, the nomination will go to the floor for final approval by unanimous consent by mid-October.Sen. Lugar's Opening StatementTestimony by Danilovich
CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise.
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