TLC Newsletter: August 2015 Update

August 26, 2015

Dear Friends:

The Lugar Center is well into its third year since our founding in 2013. During that time, we believe we’ve made great progress in support of our core issues. Earlier this year, we celebrated being named a "Best New Think Tank" in the 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania's Lauder Institute.

As the Obama administration winds down and presidential campaigns reach full steam, these core issues – nuclear non-proliferation, bipartisan governance, global food security, and foreign aid effectiveness – remain current, and our work to elevate their importance is critical during the transition from one administration to another. I hope you will agree we have been prolific these last few months with the release of a host of new products and commentary.

While election years inherently push candidates to the far ends of the political spectrum, we believe there is still room for elected officials to put the interests of the country before gratuitous partisanship. In partnership with Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, we have unveiled the Bipartisan Governance Index as a new tool to assess how often each Member of Congress works across party lines.  Soon after its launch, I spoke at the University of Illinois on how to overcome bipartisanship in an era of polarization. We are grateful for the press coverage of the Index and its adoption as an effective measure of the health of political dialogue in Washington. The Lugar Center also joined with the Project on Government Oversight and the Levin Center at Wayne State University Law School to host the very first “Oversight Boot Camp.” This was a two-day workshop held August 11th and 12th that offered training to Congressional staff in conducting fair and bipartisan Congressional investigations to improve government accountability.

Our work on global food security remains robust particularly as Congress and the administration work on authorizing the Feed the Future program, the U.S. program that supports international agricultural development in food insecure countries.  At Purdue University, I spoke about how to overcome political barriers to feeding the world.  I also joined with former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman and former USAID Administrator Peter McPherson in an op-ed urging a greater role for higher education institutions in order to build the necessary capacity in developing countries for long term agricultural sustainability.

Our goal is to highlight aspects of global hunger that are not getting the attention they deserve. We believe that building human and institutional capacity of agricultural universities is key to greater productivity and rolling back the number of people living with chronic hunger. We have released a Facts and Figures brief on food insecurity and analysis on improving U.S. programs through a whole of government approach. We have pointed out that current programs neglect agroforestry much to the detriment of raising productivity and improving nutrition. Additionally, we have weighed in on the debates around genetic engineering with FAQs and blogs on labeling and Chipotle’s misleading announcement that it is GMO-free.

We continue to work with the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) to improve the effectiveness of U.S. aid programs. Aid done well – transparently, in partnership with developing countries, and responsive to regular evaluations – advances U.S. foreign policy objectives. Aid done poorly undermines U.S. relations and reduces impact. I have been very vocal in calling for strong leadership at USAID and reforms to food aid programs. In July, I kicked off an MFAN event releasing its ACCOUNTdown to 2017 tool to hold Congress and the administration accountable for advancing aid effectiveness. Lori Rowley, TLC’s expert on aid accountability, has been very busy educating policy makers on the value of transparency and data.

And finally, our work in WMD non-proliferation couldn’t be more relevant as the administration concluded negotiations with Iran and presented Congress with a treaty. I joined with former Sen. Bennett Johnston in discussing the merits of approving the international agreement. As we stated in our recent op-ed, “Rejection of the agreement would severely undermine the U.S. role as a leader and reliable partner around the globe. If Washington walks away from this hard-fought multilateral agreement, its dependability would likely be doubted for decades.”

In our last newsletter, we promised a redesigned website, and we hope you have had the chance to visit the new award-winning site (see here and here). We hope you will visit it often to learn about our continuing progress here at the Center.


Richard G. Lugar

President, The Lugar Center

United States Senator (Ret.)