Long Term Peace Corps Expansion

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Special Reports: December 3, 2004: Promises not funded are promises not kept: Long Term Peace Corps Expansion
Promises not Funded are Promises not Kept Promises not Funded are Promises not Kept
Read the op-ed on the President's promise to double the Peace Corps by 2007, why the Peace Corps is admitting that it isn't going to happen, and what RPCVs can do to help. Latest: Read what Director Vasquez says about expansion and why promises are still unkept.

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-151-196-239-147.balt.east.verizon.net - on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 12:56 pm: Edit Post

Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview - Long Term Peace Corps Expansion

Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview - Long Term Peace Corps Expansion

Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview - Long Term Peace Corps Expansion

Long Term Peace Corps Expansion

PCOL: President Bush says he supports doubling the size of the Peace Corps and his party controls both the House and the Senate. Candidate Kerry says he supports tripling the size of the Peace Corps so obviously there is a strong bipartisan support for the agency. With this support, why did the President receive $50 million less this year than what he asked for and what do you think the prospects are for higher Peace Corps budgets in the future?

GV: Well, on the issue of the appropriations level, we do the best job that we can to present our program, our expansion opportunities to Congress, and then Congress makes the determination as to what our appropriation levels will be and so I believe that if we continue to make the progress we have made, and I might add that while the funding levels over the last two years, now coming up on year three have not been at the requested levels, the fact of the matter is that they have been at a historic high for Peace Corps which shows a level of willingness on the part of Congress to increase the funding levels, not to the levels we have requested, but we will continue to make the case, one, that the Peace Corps is well positioned to expand, second, that there is a supply and a demand for Americans who are willing to serve in a number of countries that would like to have programs and that we are able to expand using the resources that have been made available to us to expand within those constraints.

PCOL: To meet the growth goals set by President Bush, is the primary challenge strictly a matter of having the funding to pay for more volunteers and infrastructure, is it in increasing the countries that the Peace Corps operates in, or is it in recruiting enough qualified volunteers to fill the requests you have coming in?

GV: It is all of the above. The challenges we face are that we want to grow and expand, because we believe that the time is right. We believe that the demand exists for more programs, and know for a fact that even within existing programs, there are requests for more volunteers. So, we have the ability to grow within the framework of existing countries and we have the ability to grow with new country entries. With additional recruitment dollars we can expand the recruitment effort into media buys for radio and television commercials. We could also purchase print advertising and other media so that it's a multi-faceted campaign. However, the one thing I do not want to do is compromise safety and security or the quality of the Peace Corps volunteer experience. Those remain my highest priorities. There needs to be an integrated growth strategy to build the infrastructure, and assess the available opportunities for Americans to serve in the Peace Corps, and for host countries to gain the optimum benefits of that volunteer service. Ultimately, we want the volunteer to have the experience they aspire to when they begin their Peace Corps service, because that is important to the third goal.

PCOL: Could you tell us some of the countries the Peace Corps may be going into in the future once the Peace Corps receives the appropriations to support the new programs?

 Long Term Peace Corps Expansion

GV: Some of the countries that come to mind are Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. Vietnam has expressed an interest, and we have had some preliminary inquiries from Chile. There are a number of countries that we have had preliminary dialog with, and others that have actually formalized an invitation and have requested us to do an assessment. We are looking at the Marshall Islands as a possibility for re-entry. I just visited recently with the President of the Marshall Islands who requested that we consider a return. So there are, frankly, an abundance of opportunities that are basically available to us, contingent on funding.

PCOL: So you would say that the goal of doubling the Peace Corps to 15,000 volunteers is a goal that is attainable over the next four or five years if the appropriations are there?

GV: The appropriations are the first step. I think the Peace Corps has an obligation to build the infrastructure to support the growth as that is very important. For example, we are using technology now for the application process. Over 70 to 80 percent of all applicants who are applying to the Peace Corps these days are doing so online. So, we need to build the technology infrastructure. I know I am preaching to the choir because you use technology to communicate and spread the news. Consequently, we use technology for the volunteer delivery system and the database systems to keep current information and process both current volunteers and RPCVs. We need to maintain the safety and security that creates optimum conditions for a safe experience, and to ensure that programming, training and support for posts is at the levels needed to ensure quality programs.

PCOL: So you are building the infrastructure and you do see the doubling of the Peace Corps as attainable over the next few years if the appropriations are there?

GV: I think it is attainable. I am not prepared today, as I sit here speaking with you, to put a number to the years that it would take because, again, it requires funding levels on a per year basis. However, if the question is, "do I believe that the Peace Corps is capable of achieving a doubling over a period of time, assuming full appropriations," I do believe that is entirely possible.

When this story was posted in September 2004, here was the front page of PCOL Magazine:

Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview Director Gaddi Vasquez: The PCOL Interview
This month we sat down for an extended interview with Peace Corps Director Gaddi Vasquez. Read the entire interview from start to finish and we promise you will learn something about the Peace Corps you didn't know before.

Then read the questions and answers one by one and leave your comments on the issues raised during the interview including Infrastructure Upgrades and the new Situation Room at Headquarters, Is there a Budget Crunch this year at Peace Corps, Peace Corps' Long Term Expansion, the Changes to the Five-Year Rule made last year, Safety and Security Issues, the Cooperative Agreement with NPCA, RPCVs in Policy Making Positions at Peace Corps Headquarters, Peace Corps' Departure from Russia in 2002, Director Vasquez's Accomplishments as Director, the Peace Corps Safety and Security Bill before Congress, Continuity at the Agency during Changes in Administration, the Community College Program, and the Director's Message to the Returned Volunteer Community.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: PCOL Exclusive

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Peace Corps Directors - Vasquez; Expansion; COS - Eritrea; COS - Ethiopia; COS - Nigeria; COS - Marshall Islands; Vietnam



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