June 17, 2002 - PCOL Op-ed: Ken Hill: An Assessment of Proposed Peace Corps Legislation

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By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, June 17, 2002 - 10:07 pm: Edit Post

Ken Hill: An Assessment of Proposed Peace Corps Legislation


One of the purposes of PCOL is to encourage and facilitate the exchange of different opinions and views within the Returned Volunteer Community. PCOL sent out advance copies of the new draft Peace Corps legislation to RPCVs who have previously expressed themselves on our Message Boards and asked them to read the legislation and give us their reactions in op-ed pieces.

This op-ed piece on the new legislation is written by RPCV and former Peace Corps Chief of Staff Ken Hill. We are publishing other op-ed pieces on the new Peace Corps legislation in this issue and in future issues of PCOL.

Read and comment on this op-ed piece on the new Peace Corps legislation at:

An Assessment of Proposed Peace Corps Legislation*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.

An Assessment of Proposed Peace Corps Legislation

by Ken Hill


The new legislation authorizing Peace Corps for the next four years and amending the Peace Corps Act has undergone positive revision. The revised version modifies some language from the first draft, omits a separate fourth goal, provides specific authorized levels of funding and makes some improvements in fine points.

A fourth goal for Peace Corps was included in the first draft but is not stated as a new Peace Corps goal in the revised draft. It is incorporated as clarifying language related to the original three goals and as such rationalizes the proposed expansion of Peace Corps.

An important difference in the revised version, in my view, is in the substitution of "... American values and ideals...." for "...Western values and goals..." in the discussion about new roles and emphases for Peace Corps in the 21st Century. The language is a significant improvement because in context it expresses the idea with more cultural sensitivity and clarity. Thereby it enhances the argument for expanding the Peace Corps and giving it more prominence in the significant goal of increasing cultural understanding.

Other language has been altered from a directive nature to that of guidance which is highly preferable. For example, instead of saying, "The Peace Corps should establish an office of strategic planning....", it says "It would be extremely useful for the Peace Corps to establish an office of strategic planning...." There are other, similar distinctions between the original draft and this version of the legislation and I find them to be positive changes which leaves Peace Corps with more flexibility yet clearly stating the preferences of Congress.

The year 2007 is designated as the target year for achieving the goal of 15,000 Volunteers and this is reflected In the stated authorized levels for . I continue to believe that given the current status of Peace Corps and the enormous task of more than doubling it's Volunteer strength, it would be far more advisable to target 2009 or even the end of the decade for this increase.

In discussing Peace Corps expansion, the legislation emphasizes the need for Peace Corps to expand in such a way that quality is maintained, adequate staffing is provided and that the safety and security of Peace Corps Volunteers and Trainees is not jeopardized. This is very important language. Still, political realities usually tend to push agencies to cut corners when they are faced with significant challenges. Is it worth the risk to achieve 15,000 Volunteer levels in 2007 or 2009 or 2010?

The revised draft is stronger than the original version in several ways. In my view, its language is more culturally sensitive and appropriate, it corrects some technical errors in the first draft and makes a stronger case for expanding the Peace Corps as well as the role of RPCV's. This version is even more worthy of the strong support of the Peace Corps community.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Special Reports; Peace Corps - Congress; Speaking Out



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