The First Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR): Leading Through Civilian Power

Thursday, January 13, 2011
U.S. Department of State
North America
United States of America

Civilian power is the combined force of women and men across the U.S. government who are practicing diplomacy, implementing development projects, strengthening alliances and partnerships, preventing and responding to crises and conflict, and advancing America's core interests: security, prosperity, universal values—especially democracy and human rights—and a just international order. They are the people who negotiate peace treaties, stand up for human rights, strengthen our economic cooperation and development, and lead interagency delegations to conferences on climate change. It is the civilian side of the government working as one, just as our military services work together as a unified force.

These civilians ask one question again and again: How can we do a better job of advancing the interests of the American people? The answer should be the same for every agency and department: We can work smarter and better by setting clear priorities, managing for results, holding ourselves accountable, and unifying our efforts. The first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) aims to meet these goals by setting forth a sweeping reform agenda for the State Department and USAID, the lead agencies for foreign relations and development respectively. It builds on the work of Secretary Clinton's predecessors, who recognized many of the needs we address here in reports such as Secretary Rice's Transformational Diplomacy.

The QDDR follows in the footsteps of the quadrennial reviews by the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security in taking a comprehensive look at how we can spend our resources most efficiently, how we can achieve our priorities most effectively, what we should be doing differently, and how we should prepare ourselves for the world ahead.

To begin, we must do much more with what we have. Secretary Clinton began her tenure by stressing the need to elevate civilian power alongside military power as equal pillars of U.S. foreign policy. She called for an integrated “smart power” approach to solving global problems—a concept that is embodied in the President's National Security Strategy.

The starting premise of the QDDR is that to achieve this vision, and the savings and performance it can yield, we must recognize that civilian power in the world is not limited to State and USAID alone. We have seen astonishing growth in the number of civilian agencies that engage in international activity: energy diplomacy, disease prevention, police training, trade promotion, and many other areas.

When the work of these agencies is aligned, it protects America's interests and projects our leadership. We help prevent fragile states from descending into chaos, spur economic growth abroad, secure investments for American business, open new markets for American goods, promote trade overseas, and create jobs here at home. We help other countries build integrated,
sustainable public health systems that serve their people and prevent the spread of disease. We help prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. We support civil society groups in countries around the world in their work to choose their governments and hold those governments accountable. We support women's efforts to become financially independent, educate their children, improve their communities, and help make peace in their countries.

This is an affirmative American agenda—a global agenda—that is uncompromising in its defense of our security but equally committed to advancing our prosperity and standing up for our values. Empowering the people who carry out this work to deliver results for the American people is the ultimate goal of this report. Hundreds of experts from across State and USAID participated in QDDR working groups, and many more from inside and outside government offered suggestions. This report reflects their experience, as well as the strategic vision of the Secretary and the senior leadership of both agencies.

Although this kind of review inevitably emphasizes what we can do better, it is important to start by recognizing and commending State and USAID's long history of successfully advancing America's interests abroad. Much of what we do, we do very well. This QDDR does not, and need not, focus on those areas of success. Instead, Secretary Clinton directed the QDDR to
focus on specific opportunities for improvement, where we need to adapt, where we can fulfill our missions more efficiently.

The QDDR begins by assessing the world as it is today and the changes we expect in the years ahead. Key global trends are reshaping international affairs and placing new demands on our diplomats and development experts. Threats loom, including violent extremism, nuclear proliferation, climate change, and economic shocks that could set back global prosperity.
At the same time, the forces that fuel these challenges—economic interdependence and the speedy movement of information, capital, goods, and people—are also creating unprecedented opportunities. Power in the international system, once exercised more or less exclusively by a handful of great powers, is now shared by a wide array of states, institutions, and non-state actors. And the information revolution has accelerated the tempo of international affairs. It has unleashed new threats, as when confidential diplomatic communications are published online, endangering lives around the world and undermining efforts to promote the common good. But it also offers extraordinary opportunities for more people in more places to participate in global
debates and make a difference in the lives of people in need.

After the earthquake in Haiti this year, individual donors used text messaging to raise $40 million for the recovery. U.S. diplomats, development experts, and civilian specialists grapple with the implications of all these trends every day. Their ability to do their jobs—and deliver results for the American people—depends on our capacity to adapt to and shape this changing world. The recommendations of the QDDR are all aimed toward this end. They will save money, but more importantly, they will save lives.

The rest of this executive summary is divided into four sections: Diplomacy for the 21st Century, which shows how we will adapt our diplomacy to new threats and opportunities; Transforming Development to Deliver Results, which highlights our efforts to re-establish USAID as the world's preeminent development agency; Preventing and Responding to Conflict and Crisis, which describes how we will improve our ability to operate in fragile states and help stop conflicts before they happen; and Working Smarter, which explains how we will improve our approaches to planning, procurement, and personnel.

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