Scholars want AID folded into State Department

The Agency for International Development should be folded into the State Department, two scholars recommend in this month's Foreign Service Journal. Brookings Institution scholars Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay also called on Secretary of State Colin Powell to reorganize the agency by eliminating functional bureaus dedicated to such causes as human rights, the environment, narcotics and economics. Those functions would be integrated into five regional bureaus that would have responsibility for all the issues affecting countries in their purview. Previous changes to the State Department's organizational chart that created the functional bureaus did not help make issues like human rights and the environment into priorities for the Foreign Service, the scholars said. "The cumulative effect of these changes is a stovepiped organization in which power lies in regional bureaus that have no organizational incentive to make functional issues a priority. After all, those issues are handled elsewhere in the building," Daalder and Lindsay wrote. "Accountability suffers and buck-passing becomes common because no one bears responsibility for policy that has both functional and bilateral elements (as almost every issue does)." The scholars' recommendations were also included in a report issued in January by the U.S. Commission on National Security, led by former senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman. The Hart-Warren report made a broad set of recommendations for improving the country's national security establishment, including the State Department. Numerous reports in recent years have recommended sweeping changes to the State Department, from reorganizations to investment in technology to better human resources management to more secure facilities. The scholars' proposal to fold AID into State comes two years after the U.S. Information Agency and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency merged with State. Daalder and Lindsay contend that the 1999 merger bucked a general trend of moving power out from under the Secretary of State. The scholars point to the creation of AID, the Office of Special Trade Representative and the Commerce Department's Foreign Commercial Service as examples of State's loss of control over the years. "Reformers have trimmed State's responsibilities, either because they thought it ignored certain issues or because they believed the issues could be better tackled elsewhere," Daalder and Lindsay said. "Fixing State's organizational weakness should be one of Secretary Powell's highest priorities." Powell told the House Budget Committee last month that he is wary of a reorganization on the scale envisioned by the scholars and the Hart-Rudman commission. "If I ever started to try to do this today, I would spend my whole four years or two years or one year or two months, as it may be as Secretary of State--we don't know--I would spend all my time just sorting out who sits where," Powell said. "Reorganization is not always something you do for people, it's something you do to people on occasion, and I want to do something for people. So we're going to make sure that we understand what the consequences are of moving to the kind of organization suggested by the commission…. It's a traditional debate between regional orientation and functional orientation. And I think the answer is, there has to be a combination of the two." But Powell pledged to streamline the State Department by eliminating management layers and some jobs that he deems unnecessary. He has also proposed moving the much-criticized Foreign Buildings Operation out of the Bureau of Administration so that the buildings chief reports directly to the undersecretary for management.
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