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U.S. Ambassador to the OECD Kornbluh's Remarks on the U.S. Agenda at the OECD, February 2012

Speaker: Karen Kornbluh, Senior Fellow for Digital Policy
Published February 17, 2012

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U.S. Ambassador to the OECD Karen Kornbluh spoke on the importance of the U.S. agenda at the OECD on February 17, 2012, at the American Club in Paris.

Excerpt from the speech:

We have worked with the Secretary General and other countries to ensure the once Rich Man's Club is no longer "Rich," or just for "Men," or a "Club."

The first thing we did is add to membership: Israel, Chile, joined the OECD with active U.S. support in 2010. Now, we're working with Russia on its application for membership.

Then in 2011 the U.S. used its chairmanship of the 50th anniversary Ministerial of the OECD to drive additional change. At the May Ministerial, where Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton served as chair and was joined by USTR Ron Kirk and CEA Chair Austan Goolsbee, members adopted a new Vision for the organization – committing it to become an outward looking "global policy network."

This year we are making that real.

Most importantly in Development, the framework agreed upon at the MCM was a Secretary Clinton priority. The Busan, Korea High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, of which the OECD was Secretariat, changed aid effectiveness to development effectiveness: Now we are working on a Strategy to transform development work here at the OECD by the next Ministerial this spring.

The U.S.-supported OECD Task Force on Taxation and Development is a model -- sharing best practices on tax administration with countries in Africa and Latin America.

Then, we are working with the BRICs to involve them in OECD standards and work.

One example of how we are making good on our Vision is with Anti-Corruption. Many OECD countries do not enforce anti-bribery laws and non-OECD BRICS didn't even have such laws. At the G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, economies committed to complying with the Anti-Bribery Convention. Attorney General Eric Holder and numerous other senior Administration officials came here to the OECD to encourage more countries to join the Anti-Bribery Conventions and to ensure better implementation.

There have been real results. The UK passed an anti-bribery law. The OECD is, for the first time, publishing data on anti-bribery enforcement and hosting regular prosecutors' meetings. In order to comply with OECD requirements for membership, Russia today will accede to the Convention. Other anti-corruption successes include the new Multinational Enterprise Guidelines adopted at last year's Ministerial. The Global Forum on Transparency in Tax includes 95 countries and works to stamp out tax havens. The OECD works on procurement in developing countries.

Other examples include developing best practices and guidelines for State-Owned Enterprises. In MENA we are hoping the OECD will do additional work on Integrity and the Open Government Partnership. We hope for some additional partnerships to be announced with India and Indonesia.

So, we have worked to ensure the OECD is not just about "rich countries" but also not just "men." The Vision Statement committed OECD work to address social issues and its work pertaining to women and kids is excellent.

The OECD has produced ground breaking work on inequality and social mobility. It shows we have a great deal of work to do. The President has spoken on this as a major challenge. It's PISA education surveys show us were to begin. The Administration has welcomed this survey although it shows the U.S. is not where we would like to be. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan came to the OECD Ministerial to learn from other Ministers. He then hosted the release of the 2009 PISA results in Washington at a Town Hall broadcast on PBS. I had the good fortune to be there and Secretary Duncan called the results a "wake up call" for the U.S. He requested a separate report, lessons for the U.S., from PISA and then hosted a meeting in New York of Ministers from high performing education systems and their teacher representatives to meet with U.S. education leaders and teachers unions.

The United States initiated a women's economic opportunity project – an ambitious cross-cutting program with financial support from the United States. It will identify key drivers of women's opportunity in education, employment and entrepreneurship and address the barriers that prevent women's advancement. At the Ministerial Secretary Clinton asked the World Bank, United Nations and OECD to work together on indicators that cut across the developed and developing world. The gender initiative will be a deliverable at this year's Ministerial.

So, the OECD is not just "rich" not just for "men" and we also wish that instead of being a closed "club", it opens up to the "networks" that our former head of Policy and Plans at the State Department reminded us are now all around us.

The Internet is a platform for innovation – creating of jobs – and the U.S. is a leader. Last June, we hosted a high-level Internet meeting that produced high-level Internet Policy Making Principles to protect Internet openness. There was broad participation, from the founders of Internet to representatives from businesses, NGOs – they were all here. Just last December, the OECD adopted a Recommendation. The Principles show countries how to protect IP, privacy, law enforcement concerns in a transparent fashion.

In addition, the U.S. has worked through OECD committees on an e-government to increase transparency in government policy making. We are now working on an e-government tool kit.

And finally, we are working with the OECD to open up the OECD itself. I had heard from U.S. policy makers in the Executive Branch, Congress, and from economists and journalists that they had great difficulty accessing OECD data. The U.S. has a policy for open and full access to data. The World Bank made its data open and free. Finally, Secretary Clinton and UK Foreign Minister Hague asked the OECD to do so as well. At the December Council meeting OECD members agreed it would do so by 2015 with no additional costs to members.


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