Granger Opening Statement: Budget Hearing - United States Agency for International
The Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs will come to order.
I want to welcome the acting Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Ambassador Al Lenhardt. Ambassador, we look forward to hearing your testimony today.
U.S.A.I.D. responds to some of the most challenging problems in the world - from tackling emergency situations such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the humanitarian crisis in Syria, to addressing long-term development needs in some of the poorest, most conflict-stricken places around the globe. I am proud of our men and women serving overseas in our military, U.S.A.I.D. missions, the Peace Corps, and our embassies around the world. I want to ensure that the United States continues to lead on the world stage.
Real leadership requires the willingness to review what is going well and what is not. I believe there are many areas of U.S.A.I.D. that need improvement, and I hope that we can work together to address them.
My first concern is that there are many U.S. government agencies involved in health, development, and disaster response activities overseas. I am concerned that responsibilities may not always be clear, agencies may duplicate each other’s efforts, and coordination may not occur as it should.
As you well know as a former Ambassador to Tanzania, an embassy that was attacked in the 1990’s, desk space at U.S. embassies comes with a high price because of the security required. Overseas positions for all agencies should be carefully considered to ensure that the work gets done effectively and efficiently by the agency with the most appropriate skills to address the problems at hand. There is no room in the federal budget for duplication.
Another challenge is one former Administrator Shah tried to address with the feed the future initiative, and I hope you will continue to do so with other programs as well. In many countries, U.S.A.I.D. tries to do too much. The agency needs to continue focusing on reducing the number of programs you manage, and do those well. You should terminate the programs that do not work or that may be causing you to spread the agency’s people and resources too thin.
My next concern is that it is difficult to get access to U.S.A.I.D. There are many American businesses, faith-based organizations, and universities that have development ideas to bring to the table, but we consistently hear complaints that they cannot find ways to partner with the agency.
Ambassador Lenhardt, with your military background and your time spent as a diplomat, you bring a new perspective to this agency. I hope you can discuss some of these management challenges that are directly related to your budget, and we can work together to solve them.
The budget request includes $22 billion that U.S.A.I.D. manages entirely or partially. This includes a $269 million increase for U.S.A.I.D.’s operating expenses.
It is very unlikely that our subcommittee’s allocation will allow us to address all of the areas identified in the request, so we will have to work closely together to prioritize many competing demands in international development, health, and humanitarian programs.
I want to close by thanking you and the men and women of U.S.A.I.D., as well as your implementing partners, who are committed to solving some of the most difficult global development issues around the world, often in very dangerous places. All of us on this subcommittee understand and appreciate that work.