Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-CA) and State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) offered an amendment to the defense authorization bill which would create an advisory panel to improve the interagency process.   

  The Skelton-Berman-Lowey amendment to H.R. 5658, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009, was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives by voice vote. 

 “Recent national security crises have exposed dangerous gaps in the interagency national security system that must be addressed.  With the prospect of a new Administration next year, the time is right to seek practical solutions that can begin to build a culture of integration within the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.  Interagency reform is a massive effort that cannot be accomplished in a single year, but this amendment is an important step to improve how our country engages in national security issues,” said Skelton.

“This amendment is a first step in improving cooperation among the various U.S. government entities responsible for our foreign and security policy,” Berman said.  “When it comes to promoting American foreign policy objectives abroad and addressing issues such as development, rule of law, and reconstruction missions, the United States under the current Administration is increasingly reliant upon our military, not diplomats or development experts.  We need to tap these resources in order address the problems and ensure that our national security agencies work fully in harmony.”

 “The agencies that manage our national security strategy must better coordinate their efforts,” said Lowey.  “Through coordination of the Department of State, Department of Defense, and U.S. Agency for International Development, we can promote cooperation between the three pillars of our national security: defense, diplomacy, and development.  This amendment strengthens the integrated national security network the American people deserve.”

 The Skelton-Berman-Lowey amendment would establish a standing advisory panel, modeled after the Defense Policy Board, to provide Congress and the Executive Branch with advice, guidance, and recommendations to improve the national security collaborative system. 
 The 12-member advisory panel would analyze the roles and responsibilities of the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) regarding: stability operations; non-proliferation; foreign assistance, including security assistance; strategic communications; public diplomacy; the role of contractors; and other areas considered appropriate by the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, and Administrator of USAID.
 The advisory panel would issue an initial report on current needs and priorities in the national security interagency process followed by annual reports on the panel’s activities and on its conclusions about the next steps for effective integration.