Transition Brief

President-elect Barack Obama is welcomed by President George W. Bush for a meeting at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, with former presidents, from left, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) 04032013xMETRO
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“Good morning and thank you for coming. Let me begin with a clear statement of what we do and why we do it. Our objectives are clear because they have to be, and to achieve this clarity we did many things. We went around in circles looking at our objectives and we came to one conclusion: someone had to do something.

“To get started we developed partnerships aimed at strategizing the planning process for next steps, with a view toward implementing best practices that address shared interests and common values going forward into the future. By leveraging synergies and synchronizing strategies we de-conflicted incompatibilities to craft a joint policy outlining five key pillars, which you already know.

“We have a saying in government and it goes like this: ‘We’ve got to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.’ And we’ve got to work on working on that, too.

“Our efforts fit into three broad categories, which are program development, program implementation, and program evaluation. All of which feed the beginning of the cycle, which is the funding request.

“On program development, we are engaged in an optimization process that builds partner capacity, and the first question we ask in addressing capacity is, ‘Where do we begin?’ And it’s been agreed: we’ve got to begin somewhere.

“If we look back five years we know we couldn’t have predicted all the events that occurred to put us here, in the present, today, so it’s entirely unnecessary of me to say that looking ahead five years will not allow us to predict the factors that will contribute to future threats, which are evolving. We must remain flexible but resilient as we develop stakeholder plans that are as wide-reaching as they are focused. Because at the end of the day, it’s a multi-year process requiring strategic patience and sustainability.

“I’d like to add one sort of sub-note here, which is to say that it’s important to balance the needs of our communities with an overarching structure that nests our specific objectives in a larger context. Doing so creates the possibility of disengaging from our initial design plan, whether as a permanent off-ramp or as a transition to the next activity.

“Because, whatever it is, we don’t want to be doing this forever.

“Turning to implementation, we do many different things, and I’m happy to go into detail, but I want to focus on three, which I’m sure you’ve already heard. We looked at the different drivers and how they manifested themselves, which allowed us to focus on one issue, to great effect, which I’ll go into later. But here are just a few, and the laundry list is long:

• Democracy
• Prosperity
• Corruption
• The environment
• Education, and
• Everything else

“Take a corollary issue: the insidious nature of global jihadi networks that prevent quality education for the girl-child in creating broader economic inclusivity for disenfranchised populations all over the world everywhere. Whether you know it or not, these challenges occur on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I mean, we ask ourselves, ‘How in the world are we to know how to address the individual needs of each community all the time?’

“And the answer is, ‘Yes.’

“Third, Metrics. Our work is all about metrics, which are all about coordination, with all the relevant parts of government working together to vie for a piece of the pie, which goes to the winner and proves a measure of success. There’s funding but it’s never enough. We have to make tough decisions and there’s no silver bullet for judging progress, although in one case we evaluated ourselves against a theory of change and found ourselves to be successful. Which was good.

“In closing, I’ll add that we must think outside the box to evolve new paradigms that address the needs of target populations, including youth, vulnerable women and children, disaffected minorities, the poor, the uneducated, the homeless, the aimless, the hapless, and the deprived.


“It may be a catch-phrase in government to say that if we do this right, we’ll work ourselves out of a job. But I’m not worried about that.

“So thank you for coming. I’m sorry to leave so soon. Please stay in touch so that you can receive us when transition occurs again.”