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State, USAID outline plans to increase hiring, improve training

Nov. 18, 2010 - 12:43PM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
U.S. Agency for International Development members work in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Some State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development employees would have to complete expanded training programs to be eligible for promotion, under a new four-year plan.
U.S. Agency for International Development members work in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Some State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development employees would have to complete expanded training programs to be eligible for promotion, under a new four-year plan. (Paul J. Richards / Agence France-Presse via Getty)

Some State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development employees would have to complete expanded training programs to be eligible for promotion, under a new four-year plan.

The government's first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, titled "Leading through Civilian Power," also calls for more hiring flexibilities to make it easier to hire people with specialized skills.

"Since the end of the Cold War, State and USAID have steadily taken on more missions in dangerous places," the review says. "More than 25 percent of State Department and 38 percent of USAID officers serve in the 30 countries classified as highest risk for conflict and instability."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the QDDR, patterned after the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review, last year to improve State's and USAID's efficiency and effectiveness. The Washington Post first reported on the review on its website Wednesday after State sent the draft to Congress.

"U.S. diplomats and development experts are the backbone of America's civilian power," the review says. "State and USAID must recruit, train and retain a 21st Century workforce."

The review seeks to shore up USAID's work force, which it says declined by 38 percent between 1990 and 2007. That staffing decline hamstrung the agency's ability to manage its mission and forced it to rely more on contractors. USAID needs to triple its midlevel hiring under the Development Leadership Initiative program from 30 to 95 per year, the review says.

State also should make its Civilian Response Corps more flexible and cost-effective so it can to quickly surge and deploy diplomats and experts to crisis zones. State will take the lead in political and security crises, and USAID will take charge in humanitarian crises caused by natural disasters, famines and disease outbreaks.

Another challenge is the agencies' staffing stagnation during years when their responsibilities greatly expanded. State and USAID have hired contractors for jobs that used to be inherently governmental work, and they should use direct hire authority to rebuild those capabilities, the review says.

USAID also needs to create expert-level positions to recruit and retain highly skilled Foreign Service nationals, or local foreigners who work in American embassies, consulates and other overseas facilities.

The draft report does not contain details on how training requirements and opportunities would be expanded.

Tell us what you think. E-mail slosey@federaltimes.com?subject=state_111810%20FTR">slosey@federaltimes.com?subject=Reader Question">STEPHEN LOSEY.

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