November 1, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Dayton Daily News says Peace Corps must professionalize management, improve volunteer training, orientation and security

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: October 26, 2003: Dayton Daily News reports on Peace Corps Safety and Security: November 1, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Dayton Daily News says Peace Corps must professionalize management, improve volunteer training, orientation and security

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Dayton Daily News says Peace Corps must professionalize management, improve volunteer training, orientation and security





Read and comment on this editorial from the Dayton Daily News that says that the agency has jeopardized its mission by neglecting its volunteers a systemic failure of long-standing that goes to the heart of the Peace Corps' integrity.

Quote:

Congress ...must require the agency to improve and implement specific standards for volunteer training, orientation and security standards that are commensurate with the complexities and risks of different foreign posts.

The agency ethos of young generalists serving as volunteers has real value. But for volunteers to remain safe, and their service to amount to more than make-work, they must be supported by highly qualified hands abroad.

Professionalizing the Peace Corps management in this way will be expensive, and require the agency to be more selective in where it sends volunteers. But an ideal that cuts corners and endangers its people isn't worth pursuing, much less expanding.


U.S. Sens. George Voinovich and Mike DeWine have requested that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee schedule hearings. The goal should be to strengthen the corps by focusing its mission and ensuring it adequately prepares and protects volunteers. Read the editorial at:

Peace Corps mission begs reassessment*

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



Peace Corps mission begs reassessment

A Dayton Daily News editorial

The Peace Corps' prestige and standing with the American public are grounded in the agency's image of youthful idealism. But the mystique doesn't square with the agency's performance in the field.

Indeed, the agency has jeopardized its mission by neglecting its volunteers a systemic failure of long-standing that goes to the heart of the Peace Corps' integrity.

The problems can't be ignored especially in light of President George W. Bush's goal to double the number of volunteers during the next several years. Image and reality are so wildly out of alignment Congress should reappraise the agency from top to bottom.

In response to this week's Dayton Daily News' series "Casualties of Peace," U.S. Sens. George Voinovich and Mike DeWine have requested that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee schedule hearings. The goal should be to strengthen the corps by focusing its mission and ensuring it adequately prepares and protects volunteers.

Throughout its more than 40-year history, the Peace Corps has occupied a singular place in America's foreign service that's unconventional and inspiring.

Peace Corps personnel aren't careerists learned in foreign affairs; they're citizen volunteers recruited to bring an American presence to remote lands and provide humanitarian aid during two-year tours.

The volunteers represent the United States as citizens, seeking to build good will abroad as ordinary Americans living among and working with the indigenous people.

For tens of thousands, the Peace Corps has provided an unsurpassed sense of achievement and wonderment. Most cherish the experience.

But objective measurements of the agency's performance have revealed serious flaws, virtually since the agency's inception. The problems have a common theme: Chronic lack of discipline in organization and accountability in operations.

In their stories this week, Dayton Daily News reporters describe disturbing accounts of young volunteers being posted in remote and dangerous parts of the world often alone with little orientation, inadequate training and almost no supervision.

These aren't aberrations. Officials charged with assessing Peace Corps management and security during the past decade attest to that.

What the agency must do to turn this situation around is well understood (and was recorded as early as 1978, in Keeping Kennedy's Promise: The Peace Corps' Unmet Hope of the New Frontier, a remarkable account of agency dysfunction during its first 15 years that continues to this day).

Reform means professionalizing Peace Corps management and operations abroad.

Congress, for instance, must require the agency to improve and implement specific standards for volunteer training, orientation and security standards that are commensurate with the complexities and risks of different foreign posts.

The agency ethos of young generalists serving as volunteers has real value. But for volunteers to remain safe, and their service to amount to more than make-work, they must be supported by highly qualified hands abroad.

Professionalizing the Peace Corps management in this way will be expensive, and require the agency to be more selective in where it sends volunteers. But an ideal that cuts corners and endangers its people isn't worth pursuing, much less expanding.

[From the Dayton Daily News: 11.01.2003]



October 31, 2003 - Dayton Daily News: Senators call for Peace Corps hearings





Read and comment on this story from the Dayton Daily News that Republican senators Mike DeWine and George Voinovich delivered letters Wednesday to leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Appropriations Committee requesting hearings in response to a Dayton Daily News series examining the safety of volunteers.

Quote:

DeWine and Voinovich wrote, "While we recognize that the majority of the 170,000 previous Peace Corps volunteers have served without incident, we feel the Daily News findings merit further congressional review. As such, we respectfully request that the Foreign Relations Committee hold an investigative hearing on this urgent matter so that the volunteers, their friends and families, and the American people can maintain confidence that the Peace Corps program is safe and secure.

"We strongly value the mission of the Peace Corps, and we believe that these problems have the potential to undermine the important work that is being done by Peace Corps volunteers, if left unchecked," the letter says.


Peace Corps officials did not return phone calls Thursday, but director Gaddi Vasquez has told the Daily News that safety is the agency's "number one priority," and that in the last 18 months the agency has added security staff, boosted its security budget and intensified training for volunteers and staff. Foreign Relations Committee spokesman Andy Fisher said the committee has not decided whether to grant the senators request but has asked Peace Corps director Gaddi Vasquez to brief committee staff at 10:30 a.m. Monday. Additionally, Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., has asked Vasquez for a separate, face-to-face meeting. Read the story at:

Senators call for Corps hearings*

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



Senators call for Corps hearings

'Daily News' report prompts requests

By Mei-Ling Hopgood

mhopgood@coxnews.com

WASHINGTON | Ohio's two senators have called for investigative hearings on the Peace Corps' handling of the safety and security of its volunteers.

Republican senators Mike DeWine and George Voinovich delivered letters Wednesday to leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Appropriations Committee requesting hearings in response to a Dayton Daily News series examining the safety of volunteers. The report found that the agency has put many volunteers in danger by sending them to live alone in risky areas without adequate housing, supervision or a job that keeps them busy.

DeWine and Voinovich wrote, "While we recognize that the majority of the 170,000 previous Peace Corps volunteers have served without incident, we feel the Daily News findings merit further congressional review. As such, we respectfully request that the Foreign Relations Committee hold an investigative hearing on this urgent matter so that the volunteers, their friends and families, and the American people can maintain confidence that the Peace Corps program is safe and secure.

"We strongly value the mission of the Peace Corps, and we believe that these problems have the potential to undermine the important work that is being done by Peace Corps volunteers, if left unchecked," the letter says.

Peace Corps officials did not return phone calls Thursday, but director Gaddi Vasquez has told the Daily News that safety is the agency's "number one priority," and that in the last 18 months the agency has added security staff, boosted its security budget and intensified training for volunteers and staff. Officials have said the agency responds to volunteers' security concerns immediately.

Foreign Relations Committee spokesman Andy Fisher said the committee has not decided whether to grant the senators request but has asked Peace Corps director Gaddi Vasquez to brief committee staff at 10:30 a.m. Monday. Additionally, Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., has asked Vasquez for a separate, face-to-face meeting, Coleman's communications director Tom Steward said. Coleman is chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps and Narcotics Affairs, which oversees the agency.

Contact Mei-Ling Hopgood in the Washington bureau at 202-887-8328

[From the Dayton Daily News: 10.31.2003]





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