Chairwoman Lowey Statement at Hearing on Management Challenges and Oversight of State, USAID Programs

2019-07-11 10:00

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on management challenges and oversight of Department of State and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) programs:

The subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs will come to order.

I am pleased to welcome State Department Inspector General Mr. Steve Linick and USAID Inspector General Ms. Ann Calvaresi Barr.

The oversight of programs and operations to ensure accountability and effectiveness of taxpayer dollars must be a paramount focus of all government agencies, and I am glad you are here today to provide your assessment of where improvements need to be made at the Department of State and USAID.

As Chairwoman of both the House Appropriations Committee and this Subcommittee, I was pleased to oversee the passage of the FY 2020 House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which would provide more than $56 billion for our diplomatic and development efforts.

These programs are not just the right thing to do, they support our national security and economic growth, and help promote democracy abroad.

The mandate of Inspectors General is to provide independent oversight that ensures the integrity of our programs and prevents the waste, fraud, and abuse of U.S. taxpayer dollars.

Your particular mandate is even more challenging given the high volume of overseas partners and the unpredictable environments in which the State Department and USAID work.

The Offices of the Inspectors General must have the necessary resources to ensure United States Government engagement and investments are efficient and effective, especially in areas affected by conflict, humanitarian crisis, political instability, or terrorism. 

To this end, our FY 2020 bill would provide $90.8 million to the Department of State’s Office of the Inspector General and $75.5 million to USAID’s Office of the Inspector General to ensure accountability in program implementation and operations.

Ms. Calvaresi Barr, I want to point out that the House provided the level your office requested, not the lesser amount requested by the President.

This Committee remains concerned about the lasting impact of poor policy decisions made by this Administration that resulted in inadequate staffing levels and low staff morale across the State Department and USAID.

While I support efforts to strengthen civil societies, private sectors, and host country health systems, a push for local procurement can lead to difficult to manage risks—especially in areas of instability or when responding to humanitarian crises.

I am also concerned about long-standing management challenges your offices have identified at the State Department and USAID.  We must always strive to do better on behalf of the American people.

Lastly, I also want to emphasize, especially as we near the 2020 election cycle, that critical attention must be paid to Hatch Act compliance. This committee will not stand for violations that occur on our watch.

Thank you for your commitment to providing independent oversight of our overseas programs. Today and beyond, we encourage transparent coordination with Congress in identifying challenges at the State Department and USAID. Your insight and recommendations on solutions are most welcome.

Before we hear your testimony let me turn to my Ranking Member, Mr. Rogers, for any opening remarks he would like to make.

116th Congress