Appropriations Hearing on the "Diplomatic Surge"

Yesterday the Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs held a hearing, “Assessing an Effective Diplomatic and Development Program in Iraq: An Examination of the ‘Diplomatic Surge.'”

Watch the hearing replayed on C Span 3.

Subcommittee Chair Nita Lowey gave opening remarks:

Subcommittee Chair Lowey: “The president has requested an additional $907.1 million dollars for these 25 PRTs to quote “capitalize on the enhanced security environment in Iraq” yet over half of the requested funding is for security. We face incredible management and oversight deficiencies for private security contractors, such as Blackwater, as identified in the Secretary of State’s panel on personal protective services in Iraq. And now Secretary Rice has ordered all diplomatic positions in Iraq be filled before any other openings in Washington or overseas, so that diplomats can transition into PRT roles currently filled by military personnel. It is the first the forced diplomatic deployment since the Vietnam war.”

Joseph A. Christoff, the GAO’s director of international affairs and trade, gives opening testimony:

Christoff: “Let me turn to the second topic about having clear reconstruction strategies in Iraq. US and Iraqi efforts often lack strategies with clearly defined goals, cost estimates, and performance measures. For example, State, USAID and DOD have spent $300 million dollars to build the capacity of Iraq's ministries, but in the absence of integrated plan. The agencies have not identified Iraqi priorities or determined the costs and the resources needed to improve the ministries’ budgeting and contracting processes. In addition US efforts are constrained by corruption, violence, unskilled personnel, and militia influences in Iraqi ministries. The Administration has requested an additional $205 million dollars to continue working with the ministries. In the report that we issued two weeks ago we recommended that the Congress consider conditioning future appropriations on the Administration’s development of a complete and integrated plan.”