Senator Lugar Makes the Case for Development

January 29, 2010 By Hannah Kaye

In a speech last night at the Society for International Development’s annual gala, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) addressed challenges facing U.S. development efforts, and emphasized his commitment to making U.S. development stronger, more effective, and elevated alongside diplomacy and defense in foreign policy. USAID Administrator Shah introduced Senator Lugar with remarks focused on USAID’s coordination of the U.S. government’s Haiti relief efforts.

Senator Lugar focused much of his speech on the importance of U.S. development, and the need to increase and modernize U.S. development efforts to reflect their importance. “There is probably not a person in this room who would disagree that development is critical for U.S. national security and that the alleviation of poverty and hunger is a key component. This is a sentiment that is shared in most parts of our government, including the Department of Defense,” Lugar said, before adding, “But even though the importance of advancing development goals is evident, constructing the most efficient, accountable, and transparent means for achieving those goals is complex and challenging.”

Senator Lugar discussed a number of factors he believes are critical elements of a stronger, more effective U.S. development system. Lugar argued that more resources are necessary to achieve U.S. development goals, and that those resources must be more coordinated across the government. In addition, Lugar cautioned policymakers to, “keep in mind that diplomacy and development are two distinct disciplines” and therefore have different goals, different measures of success, and require independent leadership. He said the loss of budget and policy planning capacity at USAID, “is inhibiting the success of our development programs” and that, “Our development efforts will never be as effective as they should be if the agency that houses most of our development expertise is cut out of relevant policy and budget decisions.” Lugar also expressed support for the QDDR and PSD processes, though urged Congress to engage in efforts to build a strong, capable U.S. development architecture. Senator Lugar, along with Senators Kerry (D-MA), Corker (R-TN), Menendez (D-NJ), and Risch (R-ID), is an author of S. 1524, a bill intended to revitalize and empower USAID and improve monitoring, evaluation, and accountability of U.S. development programs.