tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN September 29, 2015 7:00pm-9:01pm EDT
and hooim i'm hear frg hundreds of constituents and i know that thousands of new mexico women and their families will not have access to these services because it is all connected and even if it wasn't, we'd still want them to have the choices they make that are right for them. but with all of the funding issues that we debate in this congress, i know they don't have access in many of the places that they should and under the equal protection clause, they certainly ought to with medicaid funding. can you talk a little bit more about what states like new mexico with these high teen pregnancy rates without public health access, without those rural access points, where would those 21,000 women go? >> well, thank you for your service in the public health arena and your question. i think it's important we're constantly looking at new ways to help particularly young people access information and services and it sort of goes back to the chairman's question. maybe earlier, which is one of
the things we do at planned parenthood in addition to providing medicaid family planning services and other, we now run education programs all across the country and through the web that have an average of 6 million vis visitors every month. english and spanish because many people don't have access to adequate sex education in their communities. in addition, we are looking at more ways to provide birth control through virtually so that actually, you can order it online and don't have to be in a clinic because for many rural americans, it's very difficult to access a family planning provider in your community. >> it's just not there. i have a pastor in my district who's let me know that he refers women to planned parenthood because he knows there aren't the right community access points and i know it's been touched on in this committee, but i have personal experience and know many of my constituents
in their 20s and 30s and 40s with without the comprehensive health care services would have died from cervical cancer and i know how important again in a state that has higher averages than many of these cancer areas for these populations and particularly for minority populations and you want to do a much better job in investing in comprehensive health, simply do not have it and the notion we would continue to discriminate against those populations by not providing adequate federal funding access makes no sense if what we're trying to do the maintain my choice about my high quality confidential provider. thank you for being here today. i appreciate your testimony. >> thanks for letting me be here. >> thank you. we have members, we have two votes on the floor. approximately eight minutes left in this first previous question vote. it's the intention of the chair
to recognize mr. heiss, hein we're going to go to recess and come back. we thought we could go through it, but we have a number of members that have questions, so now, mr. heiss for five minutes, then recess and we'll reconvene after the votes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. just a point of clarification. it's been accomplished that planned parenthood serves a lot of underprivileged people and i just want to be clear in your testimony, you stated that it is significantly more difficult for individuals on medicaid to access a provider as opposed to someone with private insurance because so many providers now are not accepting medicaid. is that correct? >> it really varies across the country. but certainly. there are some states where it's very difficult. >> that's one reason you would say planned parenthood is needed because there's a gap there, is that correct? >> i think we have tried to
demonstrate that we are important provider of medicaid services to a lot of folks in this country. >> but particularly, the underprivileged and -- >> that's who, i mean i guess by definition, yes. >> so, you also said in your testimony that the government accountability office found about two third of the states now are challenged now, recruiting obgyns because of the difficulty in insuring provider participation in medicaid and that according to the cbo, this again is in your testimony, that by next year, obamacare is expected to e deuce the uninsured and nearly half of those are going to be on medicaid. so, from these testimonies from, these statements and your testimony, is medicaid in your opinion a substandard insurance? >> in my opinion, is it, no. >> is it an inferior product? >> well, i'm not sure -- i'm not
exactly sure how to answer that. i think it's important that medicaid patients -- >> this is according to your testimony. >> no, no, i don't think so i said that. so i just want to make sure i'm cheer on what you're asking. i think it is important medicaid patients be able to get the same quality of care that other -- >> they're not able to because so many providers, let's go on to some other things. i was just curious and those were some questions i had jotted down. seems to me there's a question mark there. praise it on one end, medicaid, then -- >> very important. >> say it's a problem on the other. >> i hope i didn't mistake that, i don't think medicaid is a problem. i think challenge is because the reimbursement rates are very, very low in some states, there are not enough doctors and providers that will take new medicaid patients. >> we've also established today there has been excess revenue other than saying profit.
excess revenue. nearly three quarter of a billion dollars in the last ten years. $127 million last year. we can break that down in a number of dimpt ways and yet at the same time, dramatic reduction in prenatal scare, cancer screening and so forth, and do you have any idea how many planned parenthood clinics had closed over the last ten years? >> i don't have those exact numbers. i. i'd have to go back and look at charts. we'd have to address why some women's health care services aren't needed on an annual basis anymore, but many planned parenthood centers have merged to be more efficient. we start ee eed 99 years ago -- >> let me go on. there's been over 100 that have closed just over the last -- >> or merged. >> whatever, but the bottom line is you stated just a few moments
ago that this $127 million, three quarter of a billion over the last ten years, that you're largely holding it and using it for investment purposes. why is it on the taxpayers hook to provide for your investments in expansion when you are declining your services and clinics are closing? >> i don't think the federal -- the federal government isn't investing in our expansion. >> taxpayers are. you've got 127 million over the last year. that's excess. >> none of that is federal dollars. that's all raised by -- >> so, we have 60 million that are federal dollars. that comes through the discretionary fund. why does the taxpayers need to be providing 60 million when you've got 127 million a year. just going back to the question asked. trying find why is the taxpayer responsible for your expansion. >> i'm not holding the taxpayers
responsible. the money paid for by the federal government through medicaid, through title 10, through cdc grants, hiv aids programs, all pay for services directly provided to patients and there's strict accountability and we are accountable by hhs looks at all the medicaid payments, so we are grateful for the opportunity to serve patients who come in to us on those programs. i think we provide very high quality and that's why patients continue to come to us and i think patients regardless of whether they're on medicaid or not, should have the option to go to the health care provider of their choice. >> the committee will now stand in recess and reconvene no sooner than 2:00, but we'll be holding to the conclusion of these votes. committee stands a recess.
spending. funding for planned parenthood. and the contest to replace outstanding speaker, john boehner. "washington journal" is is live every morning on cspan and we welcome your comments on facebook and twitter. student canvas the annual competition for students in grades six through 12. an opportunity for students to think critically on issues of national importance by creating a five to seven-minute documentary in which they can express those views. it gives them an opportunity and a platform to have their voices heard on issues important them, so they can express those views by creating a documentary. we get a wide range of entries. the most important aspect is
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information about prizes, incorporating cspan video and ways to contact us if they have further questions. the deadline for this year's competition is january 20th, 2016, which is one year away from the next presidential inauguration. under secretary of commerce for economic affair, mark dobbs, spoke at a data transparency conference on how federal agencies and cities like chicago are using data information to connect with communities. this is 45 minutes. good morning. my name is herschel chandler. i'm managing principle with information unlimited, but i'm here representing act i act. the american counsel for
technology industry advisory counsel. it's dedicated to improving government through the application of technology. act provides an objective, ethical and trusted form, where executives collaborate to address key issues facing our government. it's been my pleasure to be a leader in the transparency and federal financials project, where we have volunteers from dozens of xans collaborating to address challenges in a vendor neutral, trusted form. white papers, conferences and workshops have been produced and made available to the public. check it out for all of our outlooks. it's with great pleasure that i'm able to introduce today's speaker. dr. mark doms. his career has centered around -- for the past three year, he's served in the
department of commerce. he had three main responsibilities. first, mark led the economics and statistics administration, which includes two of the nation's top data organizations. the census bureau and the bureau of economic analysis. these agencies collectively produce information on the state's population and economy, publishing vital data to our nation's citizens, businesses and leaders. the bureaus combined have over 10,000 employees and have a budget of over $1 billion. the second responsibility was being a top economic adviser. he contributed to and spoke on a wide variety of subjects, open data, trade, manufacturing, taxation, innovation, immigration and education. his contribution was often about what data can be used to better understand the issue at hand. his third pillar of responsibility was leading the commerce department's plan for
data transformation. making sure that data are optimized to benefit american businesses, policymakers and people. prior to becoming undersecretary, he severed at the department of farmers. as chief economists, he frequently met with business leaders across the country listening to insights and reviews of the u.s. economy. prior to joining commerce, he was help tog guide monetary policy -- years of innovation, productivity, wages, manufact e manufacturing and price measurement. he received a bachelor's in mathematics and economics from the university of maryland and a ph.d. so, basically, throughout his career, mark has either used data to answer questions or he's made it available so others can do likewise. he's happily known as a fellow data geek and if that introduction wasn't enough to convince you of that, the fact
that he is three separate computers on his road back is further testament to that, so, join me in welcoming dr. mark doms. >> thank you very much and thank you to hudson and david, the coalition for inviting me. so, we're going to sit here for just a second and see if this works. there we go. okay so, i'll just say next slide. so, if we can go to the first slide, please. i'd like to talk for about 20, 25 minutes and then let's open it up to conversations. the main things i want to talk about today is data and what's happening in our country and what role the data coalition fits into that and what role you fit into that, because we live in quite exciting times. if you look at this map, this is a map of street closures in downtown d.c. because of the pope's visit today. the reason i'm showing this is that ten years ago, producing this map would have been really
hard. and this map really exemp fis a lot of points we spoke about. there is a lot of data now that is in standard geo spatial format, so making maps like this is a lot easier. there's a huge demand for geo spatial information. people will always want to know what's happening where and how that relates to other points geographically speaking. so, we think about this industry, we've also seen a huge explosion in the tools to make sheez maps. we've also seen a huge expelosi of the people who vf the skills to make these maps. you have people with the right skills, you have the right software tools and the data. with that combined, you produce better outcomes and so, in this case, you can now in today's world, just produce more and more maps to get the information to the people really need.
so, when you look at these maps today, always keep in mind that ten years ago, making these things were really hard. today, they're a lot easier and again, the concepts behind making these maps is similar to the concepts you heard our previous speak rs talk about. next slide. so, the summary -- next slide. the picture of my cat. you really want to see it. oh, great. okay. so, summary, i think we really are at this tipping point. we think about the data revolution, we're really at this tipping point as a society of really beginning to benefit from this. if you think about what's happened over the past couple of decades, we've seen a huge explosion in computer and software technology and communications technology. now, with those key components in place, we can really take advantage of the huge explosion of data that's occurring. but how quickly is that going to
happen? how quickly are we going to see the benefits from this? that really depends on a couple of things. it depends on how quickly we make really important data accessible. when i say the word accessible, you heard hudson speak about different concepts of the data being the standard format. there is a lot of buzz word, bingo, you can play with this. it is about making data accessible and usable. what i have seen repeatedly in application after application across a wide variety of data fields, not only do you need the data, you need people who know how to analyze data. that is in sport supply. i'll talk about that a little bit more. so one reason that people are getting so excited about data and you hear about it all the time is you always see these graphs. and these graphs always have a certain flavor to them. these graphs always have on the vertical axis some measure of
data volume. it is some word you have never heard of like pedabytes, bigger than terabytes. the horizontal axis you have time. it is what happened in the past and what's projected into the future. then you actually see a line that shows how much data there is going to be. what these lines always show is what they are covering up. the amount of data accessible and used by people is accelerating. it is usually, first, you have all of this open government data efforts, which you have already heard a lot about today. two, if you think about the private sector, the private sector is gathering and processing more information than ever. and then what gets people really excited about the future is just the internet of things. how much data we'll be able to
be gathering. so those volumes are really, really, really huge. so there is a huge amount of information, whether it's about information on governments, the private sector, whether it's information from somewhere else in the scientific community, for instance. so the question i would like to talk to you a little bit about is why do we care? why is this so important? okay. and basically when we look at data, we want something from it. so the previous speaker spoke about how we want more sunlight into how government works. we want better information about how government is spending its money, for instance. okay. so i'm an economist. that is kind of my background. so i'm also asking these questions not can we have more insight into how our government works, but how is this going to help our country?
thinking about all data and whether it's better knowledge of our citizens, better gdp growth or something like that. i would like to present a simple model. go through three simple steps. the last one first. this kind of data to outcome model. okay. so how do we go from data to get the outcomes we want. we're just going to simplify it. the acronym is domes, which is pretty cool. so what i would like to do is just kind of start at the end and then go way up to the beginning. so at the end we want better outcomes. okay. so we want those outcomes to be. they usually fall into three buckets. the first is what i call smarter governments. so we heard, again, the previous speakers talk about government being better, being more efficient, better able to meet
its mission. to do that with less resources. that sos a huge goal especially given how governments are. the federal government is literally trillions of dollars. you have state and local governments. and working in commerce we actually do a census of state and governments. how many state and local governments are there? okay. there's 50 states. there's about 3,000 counties. and then you have a lot more after that. you want to think of a number. the number is 91,000. there are 91,000 local governments out there. okay. there's one federal government, 3,000 county governments. there's 91,000 state and local governments. so that's just really huge. so we want smarter government. it is not just the federal government but the previous speakers were talking about. it's also the state and local level. okay. secondly, from a macro economist perspective, we want our businesses to benefit from this data. they can really benefit from two ways. one, they can use data to be
more efficient. two, as represented by the people in this room, there are businesses in the data basis. as are a lot of the countries that are represented here. so this is an industry that's really important. it is growing. it is something where the u.s. has a comparative advantage. we run a tight surplus. these are jobs that play really well. so this is an industry that we really want to support. and then finally, as also we heard earlier, more informed citizens. think about the benefits of on data. think about it falls into the three buckets. either we want better government, we want more competitive businesses, a stronger business community, because that's where our economic growth and fair comes from, or more informed citizens. how our governments are working and so on and so forth. >> that's what we are striving for. that's the outcome all of us are looking towards.
how do we get there? we get there, the preceding step is analysis data. there is all of this data out there. how do we analyze it? we have software tools. if you look at the map there is a cup called esri to make geospatial. there are a lot of softwares out there. first 30 minutes was kind fun. after that it got a little frustrating. i think i'm just going to hire somebody to do that. second, you just think about computer hardware. if you think about storage capacity, cloud cavity and whatnot, these are now a commodity. ten years ago this stuff was a lot more expensive and inhibitor. but the prices have really fallen. finally, the point i was making before, human capital.
that's an economics phrase. it means the skills of our workforce. we need not just kind of data scientists and programmers, but we also need people who really understand what's going on. so if we got all the financial data across the agencies in a standardized format, you still need to know how government actually works, for instance, to really make sense of that data. if you can get really large data sets, the bigger the data set the more correlations you will find just by chance. as we get more and more and more data, we will have more and more and more correlations. how do you filter those out to figure out what's going on. that requires subject matter expertise. we talk to people in health care, the private sector, people who are looking, for instance, you can have the best data science in the world but it has to be coupled with what's happening in the industry. an example of this is where you
just need that common sense. i'm going to tell a data joke. there are not a lot of data jokes out there. forgive me. it is low bar. three statisticians are out hunting. they go out one morning. beautiful fall day like today. and they see this buck, 100 yards away. so the first statistician gets out his rifle, lines up a shot, squeezes the trigger. the bullet goes five feet to the left of the deer. the second statistician goes, huh. lines up his rifle, takes a shot and it goes five feet to the right of the deer. the third packs up his rifle and goes, looks like we hit it. so that's just an example of where you need not just people
to look at data and understand data but they have to understand what's going on to make inferences. i know of just one data joke that i can tell you afterwards. so, again, the ultimate goal here is we get better outcomes. we're talking about better governments, make our businesses better, citizens more informed. we have to analyze data. what we also need and the data transparency coalition has been great at this. we need the data itself, the building blocks. you hear about data. i use the word integrity off. you have to know where the data comes from. there is a lot of junky data out there. the agencies i used to oversee, they pride themselves in producing high quality data about our people and population. as this data is exploding, there are real questions about data. what do we actually know about it. off when you're looking at complicated questions you have to get those types of answers. and then we have talked about
common formats and standards. you want to reduce the cost of combining all of these data sets. so it's one thing to -- another thing is you have to make your data sets easy to find. if you go to data.gov, there are 14,000 data sets there. sit hard to find information in this revolution where data sets are exploding in terms of size and number. how can you make these things easy to find? that's something we have been working on. and the ability to merge data. this is related to the standards. because combining data is where you get the real value. you can have a single data set. and i will go through a bunch of examples. you combine data from here to here and put those things together. think about the map we just showed, right? so there is information what
roads are closed and information about the map, the city maps of d.c. it is combining those things presents a good visual representation to everybody about how this is going to affect their commute. this is how it is going to affect their day. that's the simplified model. when i think about all the adult stuff, there are so many words. these are the buckets i put things in. let's go just a little bit more. now, in the first bucket, in terms of data accessibility, let me talk about what we have done at the department of commerce and why we may actually care about that. why you you probably don't know. it is a big holding company. let me go through a couple examples. noaa are the folks who monitor our climate, ocean, our fisherys, they monitor solar activity. just the weather data alone is about 30 terabytes. they have this problem of how do
you get 30 terror bites a day out the door, so, they're working with the private sector in new and creative ways of doing that, so that's just a huge physical challenge they face and how do you make this data accessible. then the good folks who produce a number of gdp. what are inactions with the rest of the world? how does that affect the economy? so, when you think about gdp, that's a system principle number. when they relice lease their annual revisions, they release $5 billion. how can we headache make this information easy to get?
how can you as a data customer quickly find that information without waiting through just hurricanes of pag hundreds of p documentation. then the census bureau. the source of information about our people. s when you see data from these private sector sources, how representative is that data of the country? and sometimes, it isn't public polling right, so if you have a pollster who doesn't have access, these numbers can be skewed. last election, there was a lot of polls that were really off. so when you're looking at data about people and from these sources, there are these huge questions about quality of that information.
what can we do to make it easier? if you want to know what's happening with your community, what does it look like? say you're moving to the d.c. area. what does falls church look like relative to bethesda. dewey. are there people, those communities, have characteristics you're looking for. then we have pto. patent trademark office. when you're an inventer and making inventions and all sorts of things which are so important, you have to look at the pat pent database and right now, a lot of that data is unstructured. it's not machine readable and not all the data they have is out to the public.
tlas strong analogy where they're sitting on a bunch of data that hasn't been opened up. i mentioned one of the biggest constraints we have and for those in the private sector, you probably have a hard time hiring people who have the skills of looking at this data. when we looked at this and there's a lot of people in our society, over 10 million, who are data insensitive in their day-to-day jobs. 10 million are data intense sieve. we expect that to increase.
and we need to develop more people with these skills who can actually look at data and make the right inferences from it. looking at these sets, it goes well beyond excel. at the department of commerce, finding people who had the ability to take large data sets and do something intelligent with them was hard to do especially on the federal pay scale. when i talk to my friends in the private sector, salaries are really high for this. we have to do a better job of educating people to get them into the pipeline to be able to do this type of stuff. so better outcomes. so, as i said, smarter government. now we could talk about smarter governments all day. if i'm thinking from an economics point of view about where we're really going to move the needle a lot in our country, where data can really help, data
often really helps where there's a lot of uncertainty, where we don't know stuff. and we've all been -- we've all had experiences, say, in the health care sector for ourselves. right now sharing information across the health care industry is very difficult. precision medicine is impeded by the ability to share information about our dna, for instance. so this is an area that is ripe for huge improvements because of data. health care is about 20% of gdp. this is huge. so if we can improve health care just a little bit, we can make it more efficient. that could have huge benefits for society. again, a good friend of mine works in the criminal justice area. there is just so much we don't know about the criminal justice system. we think about all these financial records across state and local governments and all these government agencies and how they don't talk to each other. they're in different formats. the criminal justice system is much worse. so if you think about all your
state and local law enforcement agencies even within those agencies data doesn't talk to one another. so my car was stolen july 3rd. my car was stolen in front of my house and so i called the police and they come and -- has anyone had a car stolen before? so the police assume that you just forgot where you parked it. okay? so once you get over that and you tell them you weren't drinking too much the night before and they actually drive around your neighborhood to see if they can find it, you know, my car was actually stolen. and then they're like, well, it was either sold at a chop shop or they're out joy riding and it will pop up in a few weeks. fine. i'm talking to my neighbor, she said, well, my car was stolen, too. what i did, i went to the d.c. government website. and the one part of d.c. government that works really, really well, is parking tickets. right? everyone knows this, right? and they're really efficient. what you should do is go on the website a couple times a day and see our car gets a parking ticket and you'll see -- and if it got a parking ticket, it
wasn't at a chop shop and, sure enough, it did. and so it got a parking ticket for a license plate removed and the ticket told me exactly where the car was. so i went there. the car had been moved, but the data systems of the parking folks in d.c. government did not talk to the police department, right? so the person issuing the ticket had no idea that the ticket they were issuing to was a car that was stolen. so that's an example of the criminal justice system where you have these data systems that aren't talking to each other at all and there's so much room for improvement and then if we think about we have all these big questions today about incarceration, what people -- what we should do, what our laws should be for certain violations. what are the effects of all of those laws? we really don't know.
it's amazing that we're making such profound decisions about people's lives in an area we just don't know very much at all. but we're making big steps for that. one other example of merging data to really understand things. one of the last things i was able to do before i left office was to start this process of merging data on our veterans with data on their employment outcomes. so why do we care about that? we really want to know what happens to veterans when they enter the workforce. we want to know how that varies depending on how many tours of duty you did, how long you were in the service, what you did in the service, which service you were in. we want to know what the relationships between all these things and what veterans programs you received. we don't know how efficient these -- we don't nope the outcomes of all these veterans
programs. the budget is $163 billion last year. and we just don't know very much about the efficacies of these programs. we just don't know. but by merging these data sets together, we can figure this out. and then as i mentioned more competitive businesses. if we look at the u.s. economy, the economy has been growing 2%, 2.5% the past couple of years. one of the really big questions we have out there is productivity growth. most of you probably don't think about productivity growth that much, how fast the economy grows, it's how fast our labor force is growing plus how efficient our economy is becoming. if you add those two up, gdp growth. so what we're seeing the last four years productivity growth
averaging less than 1%. historically that's low in the united states. that's kind of really retarding u.s. growth. how are we -- why aren't we growing faster in this kind of data revolution where we hear all these great things about data? there's this big conundrum there. maybe what it is we have all these businesses gathering all this information and they really haven't yet materialized the benefits from all this data. but from a macro perspective that's a huge, huge question. so how much all this data stuff we're talking about, how much can this improve the u.s. economy, okay? so i'm just going to throw out a couple real rough numbers here. there's lots of studies out there who always talk about trillions of dollars and billions of dollars and so on and so forth. i always find those numbers really hard to understand. so i'm an economist. i've been studying the economy for most of my professional career. i can't understand $1 trillion. maybe if i was warren buffett i could understand $1 trillion. he is yet to adopt me. you have all these numbers. let me put them into context. if this could improve the economy by just 1%, think about
the improvements in government that we could get from this. think about the improvements in the private sector. 1%. that's not very much. is it? okay. so 1% $175 billion, that's hard to relate to. it's such a big number. that's $543 a person. so that's about $1,300 for a typical american household. that's a lot. the median household income is about $52,000. so that would be a nice, big bump. that's if we could improve the economy one percentage point from this data revolution. let's be a little more optimistic. over the next couple years this
data revolution can improve our economy by, say, 5%, which i still think is actually a conservative estimate. it improves it by 5% and you get close to $1 trillion, a concept hard to understand, but that's over $2,700 per person. and, again, there's about 2.4 people in the typical american household, so now all of a sudden you're talking over $6,000 per household increase. so that's why everything that you're doing, everything that everybody out there is doing in this data space is just so important because the better information that we have, the better way we can analyze it, the better decisions we can make and get better outcomes and get those better outcomes because we get better government, because our businesses become more productive. we have businesses who actually thrive in the data space. and then, more importantly, what's not quantified here is that our citizens become more informed. so i'm not sure what dollar value put on that but that's important as well. so let me repeat the main takeaway here which is i think we really are at this tipping point. we have more and more data. we have more and more groups like this who are advocating to
make data accessible, to make it usable and make it more actionable. but how quickly we reap these benefits and these benefits are actually huge. the numbers i gave you just a moment ago, i think those are actually somewhat kind of conservative. that's not much of a stretch to get there but they could make a huge improvement in the quality of lives of just so many hundreds of millions of people who live here. we have to make our data more and more accessible and then we also have to -- one of the biggest constraints i think we're facing and, again, when i talked to the people in the private sector, we have to invest as a country to the skills so we can really take advantage, so we can really leverage this kind of data revolution. so with that, thank you very much. [ applause ] all right, thank you, mark. we have time for about ten minutes of questions.
and i think i'll start out with the first one. so you just finished six years in government. you've been advocating for fact-based decisions. you've been advocating for the release of high-quality data. what's next? >> so i'm single, so i'm looking to marry an heiress. this is on tv, that's unfortunate. i don't work for government anymore, so i don't care. but more seriously, one thing i'm thinking about doing is writing a book. and what i'd like to do with this book is talk about all the different areas where data can really improve the quality of our lives and really improve our country. what i notice across all these different areas whether you're talking about accessibility of data, the federal government on the spending side, whether they're talking about the health care data, the veterans data i've talked about, there are all these common challenges and how do you get all this data together while maintaining
privacy? so on the one hand, we have this ability to take all this data -- many different aspects of our lives, combine it so we can answer these important questions. again, just think about the veterans example, but how can we do that while maintaining privacy and also the perception of privacy? the american public is getting very concerned about information that the government has on them and what the private sector has on them. and we want to use this data on people for good, okay. so if i got data on veterans, for instance, i could combine that with the labor market outcomes. if i could look at their credit scores, i could look at how much debt they have, are they making their mortgage payments, for instance? i could better design veterans policies. i could better design programs
while they're within the department of defense so that they have better outcomes when they leave the defense department. but to do that, i would have to combine da from lots of different sources, and our society, i think, is grappling with this big question about how do you do that while maintaining privacy and also just kind of this perception of privacy? people give a lot of their private data, their personal data to private companies, so facebook knows a lot about me. facebook provides me a service in return for that. but when it comes to the government doing this or even the private sector getting more and more data on us, there's this real fear. i think it's a balance. the more data we have, the better decisions we can make. but the more data we have, the heightened anxiety of people. so how do we have this conversation with folks in order to do this? so this something that i'd like to really work on in some capacity at some point because, again, i really do think that if we can really leverage all the information out there, we can really move the social needle quite a bit. >> so if you have a question, raise your hand. we have a couple mikes. right there is the first one that i saw.
>> hi, i'm from the organization of leading excellence. we go back to your d.o.m.s model. one of the things i noticed absent from that model was the very beginning divisioning or hypothesis making before the data is examined or collected. so to the extent that data analysis and data decision making is a science, to what extent does there have to be active manipulation in terms of experimentation to get the type of data you need to make the decisions you want and make sure those decisions are the right decisions? >> yeah, it's an excellent question. when it comes to hypothesis testing, that's what's really hard. and so when i was talking about having experts in the field, that's where you really, you know, need that expertise because, again, you get the big data sets, and statistically speaking you'll find lots of
correlations, spurious patterns. there's this phrase we've heard which is correlation and causation and lots of examples of that. and i think what's going to happen then is you've seen this before in slow motion, it's entered a process that goes back does not equal causation. it goes back and forth, which is we have data. you look at that data and say what hypotheses can i test with that data. then you go, what data do i want? then you go and collect that data. wow, that was really cool. then the number of questions begins to multiply more than the data sets themselves. as a country, we need to be more adept at saying, okay, this is the information we have. this is what we can glean from it, but we also have to ask this question of based on the hypotheses we can't answer, what data should we be gathering. so we have to make sure
causality goes both ways. >> hi. i think you had a lot of very good points. you said 91,000 local governments. when we talk about open data, we talk about the national or international level at very broad scales. in your opinions, what are the ways we can make this part of the vernacular in terms of making data accessibility as well as investing in local data analysis to improve their outcomes? >> so when it comes to local governments, this is fascinating. i think we have some groups here that represent local governments. when i was undersecretary, we spoke to lots of different local government associations. some of the big cities, for
instance, release data in a pretty good way. there's a company or two here that work a lot with kind of local governments in making their data accessible. i think what local governments are still in that early stage of finding out is what data do people want. i want to the city of chicago a couple of times. they had this active community of -- what do you call them, lauren? ha hackatho hackathons. here's our data. do something with it. i think what they found is that sometimes -- there were some data sets that people were saying there's not much use for that. sometimes there were data sets they found really interesting.
one example is you take a picture of a pothole. you send it in to the public works department of chicago. it is then posted on the department of chicago's website, so then they are accountable for filling that pothole in a timely manner because everybody knows when that pothole was posted onto the website. so i thought that was a great example of making information available that then made the government accountable to addressing the concerns of the citizenry. the challenge we face, as you mentioned, is that we have so many local governments. a lot of these local governments don't have the resources to do this type of stuff. when you talk about making data open, analyzing data, a lot of these local governments are hamstrung. one of the biggest drags we had on our economy coming out of the recession was the state and
local government sector. employment just plummeted because they were hurt in part because of the housing crisis. property values went down. tax revenues went down. and so i think what's happening at the state and local government level is that you have that some are really out in the van guard. some that aren't. the ones that aren't aren't because their hamstrung. so maybe what we really need here are kind of standards, suggestive best practices, across all these local governments. i think now that we've been doing this pretty well for a couple of years for some of these larger entities they're beginning to learn what these best practices are. i've spoken to many of these local government agencies. they get this, but the state and local government level, again, i think it is the human capital constraint that they're really facing.
>> thank you so much. i'm helena sims. i'm the director of intergovernmental relations for the association of government accountants. one of the questions that i have in the human capital aspect that came up in the last question is relevant to this. all this data stuff, as you mentioned, is taking place at the same time where people are getting frustrated with the cost of higher education. and at the same time, we need people trained in this data stuff. what implications do you think that has for our educational system in terms of -- what's the best way to educate people who are knowledgeable on the data stuff? >> i worked in the administration for six years. one thing the administration really pushed at the federal level is the community college system. if you look at community
colleges across the country, i think they're just doing a better and better job of better working with local businesses to better match the skills of workers with those of businesses. when you survey businesses, what you often see is that there's this skills mismatch issue, so businesses say we're not hiring because we can't find people with the right skills. how many people are in that mismatched category, but it's literally in the millions. we have to think, i think, outside of the traditional four-year college degree. and also how can you learn these skills? literally, i'm teaching myself "r." it's a data processing language. what i'm surprised at is there any number of online courses that don't cost anything for me
to learn this. that requires a certain amount of dedication and also i happen to know a lot of people that know a lot about this stuff, so i'm kind of pointed in the right direction. but fundamentally, we know the cost of higher education, the rate of inflation, has far outstripped the rate of inflation elsewhere in the economy since it is very high. but one of the big answers to your question would be the community college is just really huge. then also you see even at colleges, carnegie melon is a case and point, you take a computer programming course. it's a way to think. this is something everyone should be familiar with. when i was in high school, i took four tran, for instance, but that was the exception. that wasn't the rule back then, so what can we do to teach kids the things about coding? it was really a lot of fun because there's a lot of these
camps were kids would learn java and then they would actually make an app. that makes it really fun for kids. the way computer science was taught was done in a really nerdy way. you heard the same thing about math education as well. not only is it not where you get your education, but it's also where -- how the stuff is taught, which i think is really fascinating as well. different people respond differently to different types of education or how things are taught. >> thank you. a great question to wrap up our keynote. thank you very much, dr. doms. >> thank you. [ applause ] on the next washington journal, we'll continue our coverage of the republican effort to defund planned parenthood. democratic caucus xavier bocerra
will weigh in. then congressman john flemming on federal spending, funding for planned parenthood, and the contest to replace outgoing speaker john boehner. we welcome your comments on facebook and twitter. when you look at the role that the supreme court is playing in our society now, our history series have to have relevance. and so as we thought about what can we do to give relevance to our current programming, a series on the court made all the difference in the world. >> it's the third branch of government. it still has fundamental impact on americans' lives. >> inside this elegant building is a courtroom where cases are heard and decisions are made and
impact all of our lives. there's so many incredibly interesting cases in the court's history. we've all heard about roe versus wade. we've heard about brown versus education. what we want to do is talk about not only the legal side of these cases, but the people involved in these cases. they brought their cases to the court. >> i think what people will find most fascinating about these cases are the personal stories. one of my personal favorites is m mapp versus ohio. i think when people hear this personal story of this woman in this situation, that they will fall in love with these cases, that they will feel passionate about what happens in the courts and why they matter and why you should care. >> picking the 12 cases was a really difficult and arduous
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in cooperation with cq press. landmark cases is available for 8.95, plus shipping and handling. coming up tonight on c-span 3, a senate hearing on u.s. policy and the syrian refugee crisis. then a briefing on terrorist travel to isis training camps. that's followed by a look at how states are managing their health insurance markets. later, a speak by the new u.k. labor party leader jeremy corbin. next, the senate foreign relations committee looks at u.s. policy on the syrian refugee crisis. witnesses include the presidents of organizations involved in humanitarian aid, including the u.s. institute of peace and the international rescue committee headed by former british foreign secretary david miliband. this is an hour and 50 minutes.
today's hearing is the second in a series of hearings examining the role of the united states in the middle east. this hearing will focus on the immense humanitarian crisis emanating from the region. the images of hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children fleeing for safety should challenge every moral fiber within us. these are people just like us that want only to be able to raise their families in dignity and cherish the same values and things that we all care about, and yet we watch them on television in these desperate circumstances. we all know that the scale of this tragedy, but it is worth, again, outlining the numbers. in syria, a country with population of 22 million in 2011, more than 4.1 million have fled the country and more than 7.6 million are displaced inside the country, so half of syria's
population is not home, not living in their hometowns, but in some other place. some estimates put the number of deaths in syria over 300,000. the assad regime responsible for over 100,000 civilian deaths. let me say that one more time. the assad regime responsible for more than 100,000 civilian deaths. 3.2 million displaced. solutions must address while people are fleeing. i like forward to hearing the views of our witnesses today, but i believe after four years of war there is a perception that there is no light at the end of the tunnel. as assad continues to barrel bomb his own people, the
russians and iranians continue to ensure that he has the means to do it. more than one year after establishing a global coalition to counter isis, we learned that the main beneficiary iraq has allowed iran, russia, and syria to establish their own coalition within a cell in baghdad. it appears that our administration is seriously debating some type of an accommodation with the russians in order to fight isis. it's difficult to understand how working alongside the backers of assad could in any way stem the flow of refugees that are fleeing the barrel bombs. it is important to remember that the war in syria began with assad and he's still doing the same things today on a daily basis that he was doing at the time. i do want to digress and say that i know david miliband took a very opposing view to most of
the labor party when he at one time served in the parliament and felt that interaction inside syria should be taking place by great britain. many of us felt the same way. and as crass as i may sound, i think all of us, all of us, today as we watch what is on television and see these refugees in the circumstances they're in, all of us are reaping what we've sowed. we didn't get involved at a time when we could have made a difference. i hope our witnesses can help us understand the scale and effect the humanitarian crisis the united states and others should be taking to mitigate it, but i would like to again stress we cannot simply rely on humanitarianism alone in this crisis and that is incumbent upon us to work towards realistic policies that would bring back the hope of a normal life to those in need.
thank you again for appearing before our committee, and i look forward to your testimony. with that, i'd like to turn to our distinguished ranking member. >> well, mr. chairman, first let me thank you for convening this hearing. you and i talked awhile back as to what we can do. this committee works in a bipartisan way in order to advance our foreign policy objectives, and i congratulate the chairman for his leadership in that regard. we talked what we can do in regards to the refugee crisis globally in recognizing that syria is an immediate concern. it's a humanitarian crisis as well as a problem of conflict that needs a solution. it's complicated, of course, by isis presence in syria, so i want to thank you for the manner in which we were able to convene this hearing to see how the united states senate, the
congress, can advance the goals of the united states in dealing with this international crisis and how we can take a look at our traditional tools and perhaps refine them. look at new ways we can energize the united states' involvement and the international community to deal with the humanitarian crisis, and i would agree with you. we also need to deal with the political underpinnings of why people have to flee their homes. for the first time since world war ii, almost 60 million people have been forced from their homes and displaced in their own countries and are forced to flee abroad. we're seeing more conflicts that do not end and result in expone exponential increases in need. the situation is increasingly desperate for both the refugees and host countries like jordan, lebanon, turkey, and northern
iraq because syrians are finding increasingly difficult to find safety. they are forced to move further afield. that's why so many are risking their lives to cross the mediterrane mediterranean. there are 7.6 million internally displaced syrians suffering and into need of humanitarian assistance. more families are forced to send their children to work or marry off their young daughters. it is hard to comprehend the millions of refugees on lebanon, jordan, and turkey. the number of refugees in lebanon would be equivalent to the united states receiving 88 million new refugees. that's a shocking number for that country. turkey has already spent $6 billion in direct assistance to refugees in its care. that's a huge part of the turkish economy. at the same time, we in the west until very recently have been
relukt tar reluctant to admit even the most vulnerable syrian refugees. although the white house announced it would admit 10,000 syrians. we know that the syrian humanitarian disaster, which has destabilized an entire region, is not the accidental by-product of conflict. instead one result of the strategy pursued by the assad regime. the united nations commission on inquiry of syria has documented that the assad regime is using barrel bombs, bombardment of homes, hospitals, and medical facilities to terrorize the civilian population. as millions of families are displaced multiple times and with the casual numbers now approaching 300,000 syrians that have been killed, the number of people fleeing the country will only rise. mr. chairman, i agree with you.
the ultimate solution here is for assad to leave. we know that we need to have -- and i believe he should leave for the hague and be held accountable for his war crimes. so we need to work on a political solution. i know the president is in new york today meeting with world leaders to talk about a political path forward, but in the meantime we do have the humanitarian crisis and there is no end in sight to people trying to flee, as you said. what everyone would want, a safe environment for their families. syria's neighbor next door iraq, the people requiring assistance has grown to 8.2 million people. half of the displaced are children. to the south, yemen is on the brink of humanitarian catastrophe. that country was vulnerable even
before this convict. there's an alarming level of suffering and violence. anne an estimated 20 million people are afflicted by war and humanitarian assistance. the global refugee trends are indeed alarming. the international assistance being provided is not keeping up with the scale of the problem. the united nations has only been able to raise 38% of the $47 billion it needs to care for the syrians. we need to ask ourselves hard questions about how we can increase the effectiveness of assistance. with many refugees displaced on average 17 years. let me underscore that point. our refugee program is aimed at looking at refugees as being a temporary and how do we get them back safely to their homes. that's what a refugee was always thought to be, but if you're in some other place for 17 years
the chances of you going back to your native country is remote. some of the communities don't exist where the people have left, and many others have been transformed to a point it would not be safe any time in the future for syrians to return to their home environment. we need to rethink our refugee laws to recognize that a large number -- there's about 20 million refugees worldwide. a large number are not returning to their native countries. the united states needs to look at a refugee policy that is sensitive to the new norm, which is a number much larger than the caps we have to deal with the realities that people need to find new homes for their families. i believe strongly we need to use the humanitarian dollars more skillfully so we can provide solutions. in closing, we must recognize as that has conflicts proliferate,
no corner of the world will remain unafflicted. as we seek to win the hearts and minds in this region, our effort to provide real tangible humanitarian assistance to people will be more effective than sending more military assistance or more weapons into a conflict where there's no pathway for success. our humanitarian engagement is a moral and political necessary 't 't -- necessity. >> thank you very much. thanks for a lifetime of effort ensuring people have appropriate human rights. >> can i had one thing, if i like, mr. chairman? our chairman who is always even tempered and in a good mood is particularly proud today. he became a grandfather for the
first time. i know our committee offers their congratulations. [ applause ] >> thank you. no doubt an incredible experience. the only wish people were talking about today have similar experiences. so thank you again for your comments. our first witness is the honorable david miliband, president and ceo of the national rescue committee. he served as foreign secretary. thank you for being here. our second witness today is michelle gabaudan. thank you for being here, sir. president of refugees international. michelle spent more than 25 years at u.n. hcr. our third witness that we'll hear from today is ms. nancy lindborg, president of the
united states institute of peace, someone who we also have seen many times and thank her. nancy has served as president of mercy corps. thank you for that service. i know you've been here many times. if you could each spend five minutes giving your positions, we'll obviously, without objection, your written testimony will become a part of the record. if you can go down the line and give your testimony, we appreciate it. we look forward to your questions and certainly your comments. thank you. [ inaudible ]. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i think you probably heard, but i want to say thank you and i'm honored to be here. i want to congratulate you on not just holding a hearing on the humanitarian situation in the middle east, but recognizing the lengths between the
humanitarian situation and the geopolitical situation. my organization has a unique perspective on the crisis because we're working in the conflict zones of syria, iraq, and yemen. we're in the neighboring states that you referred to both. we're in greece where half of the refugees arriving in europe are landing on europe soil and we're active in the united states. the conflicts in the middle east present the most challenging, dangerous, and complex humanitarian challenge in the world today. and i think they present a p preimminent moral case for renewed engagement. i want to confine my remarks to four areas that more or less
follow my written testimony and focus less on our analysis of the situation but what might be done. first, inside syria there is a war without law and there is misery without aid for the millions of people you referred to, senator. it's driving people to risk life and limb to get to europe, and almost worse than the numbers you recited is that there's no structured political process at the moment to offer hope of an end to the war. the number one priority that we would present to the committee is to turn or help turn the words of u.n. resolutions, which are good words into actions. we advocate as a practical measure the appointment of humanitarian envoys, distinguished political or diplomatic figures that are able to work on the ground on the local access that is so
essential to helping the humanitarian aid reach where it's needed. the neighboring states are coping with unprecedented numbers of refugees. it's worth noting a world food program voucher is worth $13 a month for a middle-class family that's fled its home in syria. for us, the priority must be for these neighboring states a multiyear strategic package that recognizes that these people are not going home soon. in written testimony, we compared the packages needed to the martial plan, a multiyear plan which is not just an aid package, but aligns private sector effort with public sector effort and addresses the economic conditions people face, not just the social conditions. third, i'm just back from the island in greece where half of the refugees are arriving. i won't dwell on the responsibilities of european
leaders and european citizens suffice to say they need to show both competence and compassion, both of which have been sorely lacking over the last few years. the three priorities in europe are first of all to establish safe and legal roots to become a refugee in europe. without those safe and legal routes, you empower the smugglers. secondly, to improve reception conditions notably in greece and on the roots into northern and western europe. thirdly, to implement a robust program in europe. finally, it is worth pointing out that european aid for the neighbori ining states does exc american humanitarian aid. that european lead, so to speak, which is $200 million, will stretch to $1.2 billion.
finally, there is an important symbolic role for the united states in resettling refugees. so far just over 1800 syrians have been admitted and with the greatest respect, the respect of someone who is a visitor to your country, even though i work here now, this 1800 figure is not fitting for the global leadership role the united states has played over a very long period in refugee resettlement. the administration's commitment to take 10,000 citizens is a limited number to the effort. we want to raise the ceiling for the number of syrians allowed in. i hope we get to explain why the figure of 100,000 has been reached to be admitted over the next year and how that speaks to the global need. secondly, to fund that drive properly, including in the
department of homeland security where we strongly support effective security screening and can speak to that. thirdly is this scope for expanding access through family reunification schemes for syrian american communities who are in this country across the country and have grandparents, cousins, relatives in syria who want to come and join them. this is a dna-based family reunification scheme that could offer a practical and short-term way of circumventing delays that have plagued the problem. i very much look forward to a real dialogue. thank you very much. >> thank you. >> mr. chairman, ranking member ca cardin, and distinguished members of the community, thank you very much for holding this
hearing. the chaos and distress reflect -- over the past year, despite the tremendous amounts of funding that have been provided. i want to thank the u.s. for being a leader in humanitarian funding to the syrian crisis and certainly congress for having made the right appropriations. we have undertaken 12 missions in the last three years. we have looked at how displacement has evolved, how the situation of refugees has changed over time, and importantly how the funding has been drying up. the drivers of displacement are multiple from the actions of the shia militias at the beginning to the development of a tremendous military operations
by the assad regime to the rise of extremist groups, but also to the tremendous deteriorating social economic situation in syria, which makes life unsustainable for people who would cross outside to find some ways to sustain themselves. however, when you talk to refugees in southern turkey, in jordan, on what is the primary reason why they move, they all have the same answers. it is the barrel bombings over markets, over schools, over medical facilities. ngo has reported the month of august saw the largest number of medical personnel killed by these shellings and barrel bombs. the response to the crisis in neighboring countries has been i must say remarkable. we've seen very few crises in the world where borders have remained open to long, where governments have accepted the refugees spread out amongst the population. most refugees are living in an
urban setting mixing with the local population. services have been accessible to refugees. quite remarkably, in all the interviews we had with refugees, there is a rather low reporting of abuses by authorities. this is not something we experience in my places where refugees seem to be targeted much more than we have seen. we all have to recognize turkey, lebanon, has done tremendous work in welcoming refugees. however, that urban nature creates some particular challenges because the impact of refugees on host communities is much stronger than when you have refugee camps, which are easier to manage. we're seeing now there's some erosion of the tolerance of local population when they see the schools overburdened, access
to medical facilities dependent on very long queues, the rise in price of apartments or wherever they live going up and the price of basic food commodities going up, so there is an impact on the local population that after four years starts to generate reaction of rejection or tension with the refugee community. the humanitarian needs remain because many refugees are poor. what we have seen over time is refugees being pushed from poverty to misery. more begging is happening from istanbul. there are children working because their parents are not allowed to work. they do send their children to work. it's easier for children to work illegally than adults. we have seen the lower of early
age for marriage for women. we have seen an increase in what we call sex for food in basically the trading of the young ladies to just be able to feed their family. all these are trappings of the popularization of the refugee population. there were not many indications that people wanted to move until the end of 2013. when we talked to people in the first years, they say we go back to syria as soon as we can. it's only at the end of 2013 that the mood started changing. in 2014, they moved through egypt and libya trying to get these smugglers' boats to italy. the numbers remain sort of tolerable, perhaps, compared to what saw in 2015. sm the poverty they have suffered
as their own resources were depleted over time certainly a main factor. for many people, the lack of education for children is also a motive for trying to move forward to europe. but also as i mentioned, the fact that they're welcome is drying up. governments now realize that they have a huge amount of people that are getting poorer and poorer and being like a lead bull on their own developments. and local populations are starting to react. we had riots in different countries against the refugees. that outflow will not stop because either the europeans get their act together, which we hope they will, or it stays as it is now. they have faced to date have not really staunched the flow. unless we go back to the root causes, which is how we address the situation of refugees, i
think the region's stability will keep on. we have to look at increasing support to humanitarian funds. it is true that funds have been available over the years in larger quantities, but they have not kept up with the needs. what we have seen is the proportion of u.n.-funds programs has been cut down. food rations have been cut in half in the last few months. we look forward to u.s. leadership in this field. but we need to activate a much stronger response to the development needs of neighboring countries. most of the challenges they face are -- cannot be dealt by humanitarian agencies. they need development money. they need bilateral aid where the key drivers of development are the development banks. i think it's time to look at ways for the governing bodies of
these banks to put this sort of situation as part of their regular mandate. it's not just a question of humanitarian response. it's a question of guaranteeing the stability of neighboring countries to syria. i think why we're seeing these host countries becoming extremely nervous. however, even with the highest number we can dream of, it's going to touch a small percentage of the refugees. and it cannot leave us neglecting the needs of development in our humanitarian aid. finally, mr. chairman, we hear there are some attempts to reinvigorate the peace process. we have always believed there was no real military solution to the conflict. i think it is very important that the people who come to the development negotiating table must make a much stronger commitment to protection of
civilians and we must stop seeing the barrel bombing of civilians. if this does not happen, we will not see at any time any possibility of return. >> thank you very much. ms. lindborg. >> thank you. good morning. thank you, chairman corker, ranking member cardin, and members of the committee. i testify before you today as president of the united states institute of peace, which was founded by congress 30 years ago specifically to look at how to prevent, how to mitigate and recover from violent conflict. and we do so by working in conflict zones around the world with practicali solutions, research, and training. there's a deep connection between what we're seeing right now in the humanitarian crisis and conflict that has spun out of control and become very, very
violent throughout the region. i agree wholeheartedly with both of my colleagues. both of you, i think, have aptly described what is a starkly terrible crisis, numbing statistics, and heartbreaking stories through the region, so let me use my time to look at four recommendations i would make as we look forward. and most importantly even as we seek solutions for the crisis in europe and the resettlement that michelle and david have talked about, i urge that we use this moment to expand our commitment to providing assistance in the region and look at solutions ultimately in the region, because even if europe and the u.s. take the most generous number of refugees possible, that will only scratch the surface of this crisis. so first of all, we absolutely
must sustain and increase our collective commitments to meeting the most immediate needs. as we've heard, the number of commitments have decreased against the needs. thank you to all of you for having supported a very generous u.s. commitment. about $4.5 billion to date since the syrian crisis, but this is against a global backdrop of 60 million people currently forcibly displaced from their homes. there is a global burden that is stretching the humanitarian system, straining it to its limits, and we need to ensure that not only does the u.s. continue its commitment but that we get a larger collection of countries to help shoulder that burden. it consistently falls on a small number of countries. we need to expand the number of people -- the number of countries that are providing
assistance. secondly, we also need to ensure that that assistance is as effective and as efficient as possible. we have seen, as senator cardin noted, we continue to treat the problem as if the refugees will go home when there's a 17-year average rate of displacement. i've recently returned from iraq where i met with a number of civil society organizations and kurdish officials in iraqi where one in five among them are now
displaced. they have some 3 million displaced iraqis who fled isis over the last year, and despite a huge mobilization to provide assistance to these folks, they're infrastructure simply can't cope. their water systems, electrical systems, schools, clinics, so you have people who are sitting in camps in containers in squatting apartments, studies interrupted, no way to make a living, and they don't see a future for themselves. a number of displaced iraqis, they want to go to europe because they do not see a future for themselves. as one civil society activist told me, we have seven camps. that's seven time bombs. this is something we need to look seriously at, and it is far worse as you move into lebanon and jordan and turkey in terms
of the burden, the stretch on their infrastructure. so our assistance needs to focus more on education, on employment, on the kind of trauma counseling that can help people recover and on helping the communities bear the burden more effectively as we ask them to continue hosting. thirdly, we can start now to help people return. in certain places in iraq there are opportunities to return, but we need to ensure we're helping communities deal with what could become cycles of convict because of the mistrust that now exists between communities in the wake of isis. and so by working with communities to have the kind of facilitated dialogue that builds bridges, reduces tensions, and builds social cohesion, we bring people a better opportunity to return home without repeated cycles of conflict. then finally in addition to pushing hard on the kind of
diplomatic solutions that get at the roots of the conflict in syria, i would also urge us to look more broadly at how to increase our efforts to provide the kind of development assistance that focuses on those places that are most fragile whether they're weak, ineffective, or illegitimate in the eyes of their citizens that are the source of the flow of refugees, not just syria and iraq, but afghanistan, yemen, somal somalia, places where you have a web of hopeless born of conflict, oppression, and poverty. at usip, we say conviflict is inevitable. how do you manage it? i look forward to your questions. thank you. >> thank you all very much for not only what you do, but for
being here today. senator cardin has a conflict, so i'm going to let him ask questions first. >> the conflicts are all over. >> as long as you manage them. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate the courtesy. let me thank all of our witnesses not only for being here and what you do to help in regards to this humanitarian international challenge. u.s. leadership is so desperately needed in multiple strategies. yes, in the geopolitical landscape to deal resolving these conflicts so people can live safely in their homes. that's obviously where the united states must put a great deal of attention. as has already been pointed out, a lot of these refugees are going to be in border countries for a long time, and the cost is tremendous not only the dollar cost, but as it effects the stability in that country.
and there are an international responsibilities. we are significantly below what the united nations indicates it needs on the dollars. lastly, the resettlements. i just want to talk a moment about that because for 20 million refugees, we know 4 million are from syria. most of these refugees are not returning home anytime soon. some are not going to be able to return home, and our refugee policy numbers caps were based upon the philosophy that refugees would be returning to their host countries. that's not the real world today, so for the united states to have a cap at 75,000 or 85,000 or 100,000 recognizing there are 20 million refugees worldwide, many of those are not going to be able to return safely to their homes, many of whom want to resettle in a place where they can have a future for their
family that lived 17 years as a refugee on average. i guess my first question, should we be reevaluating not just the united states, but also europe, i understand, is changing their numbers on resettlements, but should we be looking at the 20 million differently and determine how many of these individuals need permanent placements, particularly those who are recent and don't have roots in the border country but want to reestablish roots for their families? should we be looking at these numbers more realistically today? >> let me say three things in response to what i think is an american peop excellent question. the central question is is this
a trend or is it a blip. those numbers were a world record last year. more than any time since world war ii. my thesis to you is this is a trend and not a blip. your question is right. i think three things are important. refugee resettlement is important for the substantive help it offers to the 100,000 people that you mentioned, but it's also a symbolic value of standing with the countries that are bearing the greatest burden. no one can pretend that refugee resettlement is going to quote/unquote solve the problem. it's a symbolic as well as a substantive show of solidarity. the vast majority of refugees live in poor countries neighboring those in conflict. at the syria case is a prototype. local integration is going to be the solution either because we acknowledge it or embrace it or it happens de facto.
i think what michelle gabaudan was saying is we have to embrace this point that there are going to be the majority of refugees in neighboring states. do they become economic contributes or are they an economic drain? the world bank isn't allowed to work in lebanon and jordan because they're considered middle income countries. it has to be a central part of the world bank's modus operandi that fragile states where the extreme poor now live -- it's got to be a central part of the philosophy of the world bank that its got to be a point of reflection for the ngo and humanitarian movement. economic interventions need to sit alongside the traditional social interventions we've done.
the third and final point is that already in the course of the 45 minutes we've been together it's evident that the words humanitarian and the words development don't do justice to the policy problems that are faced here. i would submit to you that the budget headings don't do justice. and the institutions we've got, some of them working on humanitarian kricrises and some development, that separation doesn't do justice. 28 billion was spent on development interventions. now the truth is they have to work together, and that is a major challenge to the international system, which i think it will be tremendously positive if the committee was able to engage with them. >> let me change gears for one moment. the united nations estimates there are over 400,000 people inside of syria that are
besieged, that cannot be reached as far as humanitarian help. they're saying there's another 4.8 that are hard to reach. do we have a strategy for dealing with that vulnerable population that we cannot effectively establish through conventional means, help who are displaced within syria? >> well, the u.s. government was the leader in providing assistance that was going across borders, across the turkish and jordanian boards to reach those who could not be reached through the u.n.-damascus-based efforts. many courageous ngos were a part of that. that has been curtailed by the incursion of isis into some of those areas. although the work continues and there continues to be an extraordinarily courageous efforts to reach those folks,
the barrel bombs are equally a problem, as my colleagues have noted. and despite the provision of a u.n. security resolution that david mentioned, there is not a serious effort to provide civilian protection. so as we look at resolving this conflict, civilian protection has got to be chief among the goals that we collectively put in front of the international community. in the absence of that, people are just being pummelled by both sides. by assad's people and by isil, and that further curtails ability to reach them with assistance and if you did, they are threatened with death. >> the short answer to your question is no, there isn't a good strategy for reaching these besieged areas. those people are in a worse position today than when the u.n. security council resolutions were passed.
those on the ground trying to organize the delivery of aid is one idea to try to break this terrible deadlock that was at one moment once a month. the u.n. secretary general reports that medical aid is being taken off lorries and dumped and there is no accountability for that kind of abuse of basic morality, never mind in international humanitarian law. i think your focus on this and your demand, or the implicit demand, this has to be at the absolute center of any approach to the humanitarian approach in syria is absolutely right. >> there's no question that these vulnerables that we cannot reach or are hard to reach are going to add to the numbers of casualties and the number of people trying to exit syria for a better life. it is going to add to the number of refugees. it's going to add to all the numbers we're talking about. it's just a matter of how quickly they can find a safe place or exit for their families or they become casualties of the
war. >> thank you. thank you very much. dr. gabaudan, i think people in our nation get confused. we allow about 70,000 refugees into our country right now each year, and i know the administration has talked about raising that to 85 and then to 100 over the next couple of years. there have been statements of adding 100,000 syrians into our country immediately not by the administration, but by others who are advocating for that. i know we have the chairman of the homeland security committee here, but is there a way to actually screen and deal with that or is that a number that's not realistic relative to our ability to screen those coming? >> senator, in terms of the capacity, the u.s. has shown in the past it can admit large numbers. we saw that with cubans and kurds.
there is capacity in this country. there is a question of resources, of course. i think that the u.s. system has the most serious vetting system in the world. if you look at what other countries that resettle refugees, they don't come half the way the u.s. does in vetting the people in which it meets. the u.s. resettlement program has a tremendous quality, which is it chooses people on the basis of the vulnerability. when you look at people who suffer torture and the sort of criteria the u.s. uses, i think you already have a filter that is then deepened by the work of homeland security. so i think there is certainly the technique and the capacity. for syrians, i do understand it will take sometime to reach the numbers because i was told that the intel that the government has on the syrians is not as good as the one it had on the
iraqis, et cetera. so there are genuine difficulties that will have to be overcome, but our experience over the past 40 years in dealing with resettlement is that this country has the expee willingness to do it when the conditions require it. >> let me just some discussions right now about us working with russia as it relates to syria. and i just want to understand from your perspective, dealing with refugees, are they fleeing assad's barrel bombs or are they fleeing isis? i know they're fleeing both. generally speaking can you get at for this discussion the greater roots or roots, if you will, of why they're fleeing the countries briefly? then i want to follow with questions. go ahead. >> last week in greece over the
course of two or three days, i must have spoken with 200 or 300 refugees, the majority of them syria. the answer to your question, it depends where in syria they're coming from. they're from aleppo, greater damascus out in the east of the country. it's a different situation in different parts of the country. but the point that you made, they're facing a movement -- on one hand they have the barrel bombs of assad. on the other hand they have the terror of isis. it's almost as they flee from the barrel bombs they end up being driven into the hands of isis and that's what's forcing them out the particular circumstances in different parts of the country are obviously a matter of detail. but there is a wider significant point. 95% of the barrel bombing attacks that -- and other attacks that the assad air force are undertake ing are not again isis targets.
>> if i could, so people understand, these are just against civilian populations, right? >> and other rebel group. and some of them are against other rebel fortifications. but it's certainly the case that a very small proportion of the bombing raids are targeted on isis. >> does anybody differ or want to add to that? >> i would just add, having been in iraq last week, that it very much differs depending on the circumstances. for example, i met with a couple of sisters who had recently escaped, having been sold to three different men. they're now living in a container with another family. clearly dealing with enormous trauma. and they don't really have a sense of what their future is. and they have no ability to imagine going home, which is true for a number of minority populations that have been pushed out ofheir homes.
in the absence of security guarantees they're saying we want to be resettled. we can't go back unless there's security. so, that's one set of specific issues. but i also met with a young sunni woman who had been studying for her university exams when isis swept through mosul. she fled with her family, living in a very crowded apartment. she hasn't been able to resume her studies. it's been over a year. she is just wondering what is her life likely to be. and she also wants to go to europe. so there are lots of reasons that people are desperate to envision a better life. >> let me just ask this question. so, if an effort -- it's hard for me to contemplate this even. if an effort were put in place to strengthen assad, which is what russia and iran are pursuing right now, what effect would that have if we were somehow a part of that or winked and a nod and said that was okay, what would that do from your perspective, based on what
you're seeing on the ground relative to the refugee crisis. i think i can answer for you. if you would, answer for the recor record. >> i congratulate you on the precision of your question and leading a humanitarian organization, i'm going to have to be extremely precise in my answer. i mean, i think that from our point of view, the violations of international law and basic rights are coming from all sides but the majority are coming from the assad government. secondly, it's evident to anyone who reads the newspapers or follows the debate that significant actions by the assad government have bolstered isis and have enabled the growth of isis.
thirdly, any diplomatic or political approach needs to address both sides of the coin if it is to have a chance of success. >> i would just add that, as we mentioned earlier, there is a tool. u.n. security council resolution 2139, unanimously passed, that has not been upheld by key actors in the region who are now making different moves. and so there is an urgent opportunity to ask, push for key actors to take that seriously. that addresses the targeting of civilians, the barrel bombing, the withholding of humanitarian assistance. >> i know i'm running out of time myself. i would say i don't remember many u.n. security council resolutions that have been adhered to. when they're not adhered to, we just change them to something that can be adhered to. so i'm sorry, i'm a skeptic.
but dr. gavinon? >> i fully subscribe to what david was saying, regarding the source of the main drivers of exxodus. of course, there are changes. clearly driven by the isis offensive. if you speak to refugees on the border, the majority will refer to the barrel bombing. this is the story we get on and on and on. syrian doctors who work for ngos who have a 501-c3. i'm not talking about wild groups, et cetera. and my fear is that any attempt at peace that does not immediately have an impact over how, in this case, barrel bombing are being used against civilian are going nowhere, will be -- >> if i could, unless the barrel bombing stops, the refugee crisis will continue to get
worse. and just in closing, i apologize to my colleagues here, are any of the arab countries, saudi arabia, some of those that are working to unseat assad in certain ways, are they taking any refugees at present? >> they're not signatories to the 1951 convention. they don't recognize the status of refugees. they would say there are 500,000 syrians living in saudi arabia and 120,000 syrians living in the united arab emirates. some arrived recently, others have been there for a long time but their status is not as refugees but as migrant workers. >> thank you. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you. i would like to thank our witnesses today, not just for being here today but what you're doing in the middle of a huge crisis. we all empathize. i would like to start with you.
in 2011, u.s. created a vacuum in which isis began to grow. they needed land to legitimize the caliphate. they've done that. now we've seen in the last few weeks the formalization of russia's presence there with military troops and so forth. in the last five years especially, we've seen iran and russia supporting the assad regime, which we've been talking about today. my question is what complication does russia now showing up with military presence and do you have any perspective, being in the region -- you talk about development and humanitarian help coming together. i would like to know how this development and the lack of a u.s. strategy in the region complicates your ability to deal with the ongoing crisis. i have a couple of follow-up questions about that on prevention. >> thank you very much, senator. i should say that every time the
senators applaud the work of our organizations it's very reinforcing for our staff out there in the field in really the most dangerous places doing extraordinary work i want to thank you very much for what you said, which i see as a tribute to their work. i think that in respect of the complication, i think you said, that's been inserted by the russian moves over the last two or three weeks, i have to defer to those who are privy to the intelligence and to the military option making that's going on as the leader of a humanitarian organization, what i have to keep on stressing is that all the decisions, both military and political and humanitarian need to be made with the needs of the citizens at the heart. what i would point to the last five years is the extraordinary fragmentation and complexity that's developed both within syria and within iraq as well.
and that complication makes it doubly difficult for us to do our job. the negotiation that's necessary to have local consent to deliver aid depends on engaging without building an array of local actors whose power changes sometimes on a weekly basis. the wider point about the russian role, i think, has to be split into two parts until the passage of the u.n. security council resolutions, there was no cover for the cross border work that we and others were trying to do. and so the issue then is trying to get that cover. since the passage of the resolutions, however, we haven't actually been able to do more work. we found our situation constrained in part by the position on the battlefield but also the lack of official backing from those who supported the resolution. that's why the emphasis that nancy has put on turning those words and that resolution to action notwithstanding the history that the chairman referred to remains very,