June 18, 2002 - NPCA Advocacy listserv: NPCA Perspectives on the "Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century"

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Reference: Congressional Relations: June 18, 2002 - NPCA Advocacy listserv: NPCA Perspectives on the "Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century"

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NPCA Perspectives on the "Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century"





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NPCA Perspectives on the "Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century"*

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NPCA Perspectives on the "Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century"

NPCA ADVOCACY LISTSERV

For more information on NPCA-Advocacy, visit the Advocacy Network webpage at www.NPCA-Advocacy.net.

The NPCA expects legislation on the "Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century" to be introduced on June 19. Please read below on four aspects regarding this important legislation:

1. NPCA Perspectives

2. NPCA Principles of Support

3. Summary of the bill provided by Congressional staff

4. Comment by NPCA Staff

You may also find this on the web at

http://www.rpcv.org/pages/sitepage.cfm?id=565

Ed Crane

NPCA Advocacy Coordinator

advocacy@rpcv.org

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THE PEACE CORPS MANDATE

"Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century"

NPCA Perspectives

In January 2002 the President delivered his State of the Union message, proposing a doubling of the Peace Corps within five years. At that time the NPCA had already convened an informal working group on the Peace Corps mandate, and had visited Congressional offices seeking support. The group then submitted recommendations to the Congress and has since participated in the drafting of legislation, expected to be introduced in connection with the NPCA Conference June 20-23. Initial sponsors are Senator Dodd in the Senate, with Representatives Farr and Udall in the House of Representatives.

The NPCA Board has adopted a set of principles which can help evaluate the bill as introduced, and serve as a basis for monitoring proposed changes in the bill. These principles are presented below. The intention of this exercise is to provide the Peace Corps community with a basis for addressing Members of Congress, the Administration and the Peace Corps on this important matter.

This document presents in one place the principles, a Congressional staff summary of the draft bill, and the NPCA comments on some problematic aspects of the bill. The bill is presently scheduled to be introduced on June 19, which is very timely for NPCA Advocacy Day on Thursday June 20, for the NPCA Conference, and for the Conference forum on the future of the Peace Corps, Friday June 21. Following introduction, the full text of the bill, with cosponsors, and with amendments, may be found at http://thomas.loc.gov by identifying the primary sponsors (Dodd, Farr, Udall), by seeking "Peace Corps" bills, and by the title, "Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century."

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NPCA Principles of Support

Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century

The NPCA supports Congressional legislation to enact the following principles of a "New Mandate" for the Peace Corps and its alumni to address new challenges of peaceful, grassroots development in the 21st century:

1. President Bush's mandate to double the number of Peace Corps Volunteers over five years, in a context of quality programming and volunteer placement and broader, more innovative initiatives of people-to-people development assistance.

2. The historic independence of Peace Corps, from its inception, from other agencies of foreign policy and from any and all forms of intelligence gathering.

3. A well-funded Strategic Planning Unit within the Peace Corps with the expertise and authority to guide the expansion of volunteer numbers and programming initiatives with improved research, evaluation, and forward strategic planning.

4. A streamlined, bipartisan Advisory Council to the Peace Corps composed of Peace Corps alumni representing a broad range of international knowledge and relevant career expertise.

5. A RPCV Innovation Fund providing grants to support selected innovative projects and programs proposed by RPCVs, both domestic and international, consistent with the goals of the Peace Corps and experience gained through Peace Corps service.

6. A restructured "Crisis Corps" that better utilizes the career expertise of RPCVs to extend the mission and goals of the Peace Corps into challenging new contexts of peaceful development in the 21st century.

7. A new era of collaboration between the Peace Corps agency, the National Peace Corps Association, other Peace Corps alumni organizations and initiatives and other international volunteer programs.

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Summary of "Peace Corps Charter for the 21st Century" bill, provided by Congressional staff

Overview:

This legislation builds on initiatives dating back to the Reagan Administration, which first articulated the desire to increase the size of Peace Corps to 10,000 volunteers. In December 2001, Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle wrote to President Bush to reiterate the importance of the goal to expand the Peace Corps, particularly in light of the events of September 11th. The President responded in his State of the Union by announcing that his Administration would seek to double the size of the Peace Corps in a period of five years.

The "Peace Corps Charter" helps codify the President's initiative, while including important remedies which will strengthen the Peace Corps, reaffirm its independence, and promote its basic three goals - to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women; to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served; to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

The principal components of the bill are:

o Authorization of appropriations to allow an expansion of the Peace Corps to 15,000 volunteers in five years (as per the President's State of the Union commitment).

o Restatement of the independence of the Peace Corps

o Reports to Congress on new initiatives and host country security

o Commitment to recruit and place Peace Corps volunteers in countries where they could help promote mutual understanding, particularly in areas with substantial Muslim populations.

o Development of training programs for Peace Corps volunteers in the areas of education, prevention, and treatment of infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS.

o Streamlining and empowering the Peace Corps Advisory Council, with an added focus of making use of the expertise of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers.

o Creation of a new fund to promote the work of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in fulfilling the goals of the Peace Corps and in facilitating the world-wide support of peace.

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Comment by NPCA Staff

In general, the NPCA finds the draft bill an important step forward. It is very constructive and generally quite consistent with the Mandate principles we have formulated. It supports the President's plan for doubling, authorizing the necessary multi-year appropriations, while emphasizing the importance of preserving quality and assuring appropriate staff increases. It reaffirms Peace Corps autonomy. It supports a greater role for RPCVs in programming, including those who have served in countries with substantial Muslim populations. It creates a lead role for RPCVs in the revived Peace Corps Advisory Council. It establishes a funding mechanism for RPCV projects, domestic and international, in support of the goals of the Peace Corps.

The NPCA has two criticisms of the bill as it now stands:

(1) The bill creates an Advisory Council made up entirely of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. As the organization representing both RPCVs and Peace Corps staff, we believe that both RPCVs and former staff should be eligible for the Council. We would not object to the inclusion of one member from outside the Peace Corps family but believe that the dominant majority should be Peace Corps alumni.

(2) The bill would create a Fund with particular features, to be disbursed by the Corporation for National Service to "non-profit corporations established in the District of Columbia" with the sole purpose of being intermediaries between CNS and returned Peace Corps Volunteers proposing projects in pursuit of Peace Corps goals. The NPCA is concerned that the creation of new corporations for this purpose will dilute the movement that RPCVs themselves have been consolidating for 30 years.

The NPCA is already promoting service initiatives of the kind envisaged for the proposed Fund. It encourages these initiatives through the Shriver and Ruppe awards for individual and group service. Moreover, at its June Conference the NPCA is raising funds to support the new Continuation of Service Grants, which will provide seed money to projects undertaken domestically or internationally by our affiliate groups, starting in the second half of 2002. The NPCA staff is already well-prepared to assess grant proposals and undertake disbursements. However, in order to administer the government funds in support of RPCV projects, the current language of the bill would require the NPCA to create a separate organization incorporated solely for that purpose. The NPCA staff believes that it would be onerous and a financial burden to require any organization, including the NPCA, to create a new organization solely to compete for these funds.

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