The Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs will come to order.
I want to welcome everyone to the first hearing of this Subcommittee in the 112th Congress. Some members are returning, and some of you are just beginning to focus on these issues. I am honored to serve as chair and am committed to making sure that all members' perspectives are considered as we work to tackle some of the world's most complex issues. I look forward to working with each of you and am particularly pleased to have Ranking Member Lowey as my partner on the other side of the aisle.
Today’s hearing is focused on oversight of the Department of State and Foreign Operations Programs. I would like to welcome our witness, Ms. Jacquelyn Williams-Bridgers, of the Government Accountability Office (GAO). GAO provides important assessments for the Congress and this Subcommittee in order to help us conduct appropriate oversight. We appreciate your work and look forward to your testimony today.
We hope you will address four main issues in this Subcommittee’s jurisdiction, based on your most recent work:
• Strategic planning and performance measurement,
• Contracting oversight,
• U.S. agency capacity, and
• Partner nation capability.
Several of these topics cross over into many program areas and countries. We want to hear your thoughts on how this subcommittee can continue to support critical national security investments while ensuring that funds are used efficiently and effectively, achieve clear objectives, and demonstrate results.
The Administration has made many announcements over the last two years to improve strategic planning and operational efficiencies, including the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, the Quadrennial Diplomatic and Development Review, and USAID Forward. We would like to hear if the concerns GAO has raised about strategic planning and performance measurement have been addressed in these recent policy announcements.
There are programs in several countries that have been reviewed by GAO and I hope you can update us today on your work in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mexico, and Central America.
In Iraq, questions remain about the State Department’s ability to handle the large contracting and oversight responsibilities they will assume on October first when the military withdraws. There is no room for error in such a critical environment.
In Afghanistan, the subcommittee must have assurances that appropriate safeguards are in place and that assistance is not being diverted by corrupt actors in and outside of the government of Afghanistan.
In Pakistan, there are questions about appropriate oversight of funds managed by U.S. Government implementing partners and by the government of Pakistan.
In Mexico and Central America, GAO has identified problems with measuring the success of the Merida Initiative. While I am pleased that the pace of equipment delivery has improved, more must be done and we must be able to judge the impact of our assistance.
In closing, I look forward to hearing GAO's testimony to help us properly conduct oversight of the funds in this subcommittee’s jurisdiction.
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