Thursday, February 25, 2010

HRC Pitches for Proposed State Dept Budget

HRC appeared before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (Washington, DC | February 24, 2010) on the President's Proposed Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2011 for the Department of State and Foreign Operations. Excerpt below:

Our fiscal year 2011 request for the State Department and USAID totals $52.8 billion. That’s a $4.9 billion increase over 2010. Of that increase, $3.6 billion will go to supporting efforts in “frontline states” – Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Other funding will grow by $1.3 billion, and that is a 2.7 percent increase, and with that money we will address global challenges, strengthen partnerships, and ensure that the State Department and USAID are equipped with the right people, the right technology, and the right resources.
Let me just highlight three areas where we are making significant new investments. First, the security of frontline states.

In Afghanistan, this past year, we have tripled the number of civilians on the ground, and this presence will grow by hundreds more with the $5 billion in this budget. Our diplomats and development experts are helping build institutions, expand economic opportunities, and provide meaningful alternatives for insurgents ready to renounce violence and al-Qaida and join their fellow Afghans in the pursuit of peace.

In Pakistan, our request includes $3.2 billion to combat extremism, promote economic development, strengthen democratic institutions, and build a long-term relationship with the Pakistani people. This includes funding of the Kerry-Lugar-Berman initiative. Our request also includes a 59 percent increase in funding for Yemen, to help counter the extremist threat and build institutions there as well.

In Iraq, we are winding down our military presence and establishing a more normal civilian mission. Our civilian efforts will not and cannot mirror the scale of the military presence, but they rather should provide assistance consistent with the priorities of the Iraqi Government and the United States. So our request includes $2.6 billion for Iraq. These are resources that will allow us to support the democratic process, ensure a smooth transition to civilian-led security training and operational support. These funds will allow civilians to take full responsibility for programs, and the Defense budget for Iraq will be decreasing by about $16 billion – and that’s a powerful illustration of the return on civilian investment.
None of what we intend to do can be accomplished if we don’t recruit, train, and empower the right people for the job.

The State Department and USAID are full of talented and committed public servants, but we have too often neglected to give them the tools they need to carry out their missions on the ground. And rather than building our own expertise, we have too often relied on contractors, sometimes with little oversight and often at greater cost. This budget will allow us to expand the Foreign Service by over 600 positions, including an additional 410 for the State Department and 200 for USAID. It will also allow us to staff the standby element of the Civilian Reserve Corps, which is a crucial tool in our efforts to respond to crises.

Now, while deploying these personnel generates new expenses in some accounts, it will reduce costs by changing the way we do business. As we are ending our over-reliance on contractors, we’re actually showing we can save money, plus bringing these functions inside and improving oversight and accountability.

Video of her appearance before the Subcommittee is here.

Full text of her testimony is here.

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