Chuck Ludlam

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About Chuck Ludlam[edit]

  • Twice served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, Nepal (1968-70; Ag Extension) and with Paula in Senegal (2005-07; Agro-Forestry Extension).
  • Co-founder of Friends of Nepal and member of the Board of Directors, National Peace Corps Association.
  • Advisor to the Obama/Biden Transition Team for the Peace Corps.
  • In June 2008, after a five-year effort, secured enactment of Section 110 of H.R. 6081 (P.L. 110-245), which provides tax relief to Peace Corps Volunteers and staff on the sale of a personal residence, the first provision of the Dodd/Kennedy Peace Corps Volunteer Empowerment Act(S. 732) (PCVEA) to be enacted into law.
  • In July 2006, published the Peace Corps Medical Clearance Guidelines, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, on PeaceCorpsOnLine together with an explanation of the guidelines and detailed reform proposals. These proposed reforms were included in the Dodd/Kennedy PCVEA and largely incorporated in the March 2008 Final Program Evaluation Report: Peace Corps’ Medical Clearance System (IG-08-08-E) of the Peace Corps Inspector General. Thus, much of this Dodd/Kennedy PCVEA provision is now being implemented.
  • In November 2005, persuaded the Office of Personnel Management to issue regulations eliminating the double payment of health insurance premiums by Federal government retirees who serve as Volunteers. The PCVEA presses the Peace Corps to extend this victory to retirees of state and local government and corporations.
  • Active in crafting National Service initiatives to strengthen and expand the Peace Corps and establish program to recruit and place 85,000 volunteers abroad as Prosperity Volunteers (S. 3487 and S. 277) and Global Service Fellows (S. 2609).
  • Over a forty-year period served as staff and legal counsel to various House and Senate Committees (1965, 1967, 1975-79, 1981-93, and 2001-05) and the Carter White House (1979-81); trial attorney at the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection (1972-75); and Vice President and principal lobbyist for the association representing the biotechnology industry (1993-2001).
  • Stanford University (BA 1967) and University of Michigan Law School (JD, 1972).
  • Recipient of the Stanford Centennial Medallion in 1992.
  • Office of Stanford in Government at Haas Public Service Center named for "Chuck Ludlam.”


Chuck Ludlam and Paula Hirschoff[edit]

  • While serving in Senegal, invited by Senator Chris Dodd to testify on behalf of the 8,000 current Volunteers before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the Dodd/Kennedy Peace Corps Volunteer Empowerment Act, S. 732 (PCVEA). Flew to Washington at their own expense to testify in support of the legislation.
  • Their article “A Call for Peace Corps Reform” appears in the fall 2008 issue of WorldView, the magazine of the National Peace Corps Association.


Peace Corps related Letters, Memos, and Reports on PCWiki[edit]

July 24, 2009 Memorandum: Plan to Strengthen and Expand the Peace Corps: Priorities for President Obama's First Term. Sent to Aaron Williams when arrived as director to Peace Corps.

Composed by Chuck Ludam

Open Letter to oppose legislation to authorize a commemorative monument[edit]

to the Peace Corps near the National Mall in Washington DC

Dear National Parks Subcommittee, Commission on Fine Arts, and National Capital Planning Commission Staff, and Judy Scott Feldman (Save the Mall): 09/02/09

Proposals are under discussion to seek introduction and enactment of legislation to authorize a commemorative monument to the Peace Corps near the Mall. We believe this proposal is ill conceived and should be rejected.

Several of you have said you share our view that this commemorative monument does not fall within the ambit of the Commemorative Works Act (P.L. 107-217; Chapter 89) that "limits monuments to memory of an individual, group, event or other significant element of American history that have been dead or past 25 years."
Clearly this proposal does not meet the "25 year" test and cannot be a monument to the Volunteers or the deceased Volunteers. Proponents of this idea seem to believe, however, that the Act leaves latitude to authorize a commemorative monument to an idea, in this case the idea of the Peace Corps. Several of you have said that this is not a reasonable interpretation of this law.
In any event, the proposal should not be authorized for the reasons presented here.
Is the idea of the Peace Corps so "monumental" that we need a monument to commemorate it near the Mall? If the Congress is going to authorize monuments to ideas rather than individuals and historical events, then we should start with the biggest ideas like the Bill of Rights, racial equality and tolerance, free enterprise economics, and liberal immigration policies.
If a commemorative monument is authorized regarding the idea of volunteer service, it should focus on the American tradition of community service rather than on one particular, recent and government-run model of this service. If we single out one particular program, why the Peace Corps rather than, for example, the AFS or the Fullbright program? Why single out a government program when most of our society's volunteerism lies in the private sector?
We must remember that the Peace Corps is one of hundreds of government programs that are authorized and funded year by year. It is not permanent. Moreover, it is not unusual in representing a great idea; all government programs represent ideas.
Are the ideas represented by the Peace Corps exceptional compared to those embodied in other government programs? We have no monument on the Mall to the New Deal or Great Society programs. We have no monument to the space program. We have no memorial to the Land Grant College Act. Or to the national parks/wilderness systems. Or to environmental programs. Or labor rights or child welfare programs. The Peace Corps is but one of hundreds of well-intentioned government programs and a rather small one at that. Its 200,000 participants are few by government standards and a fraction of the number of participants in AmeriCorps/Vista.
Many of us who served as Volunteers find the notion of a commemorative monument to be embarrassing. Our pride in our service is strong but we see no need to be lionized with a monument. Moreover, few Volunteers in the field would support a monument. Their view of the Peace Corps is that it should be reformed, not expanded (46% to 20%).
If this proposal goes forward, we may well see pickets at the groundbreaking ceremony from Volunteers. Support for this proposal could be seen as self-referential and politically self-serving for the returned Volunteers who are Members of Congress.
The monument that returned Volunteers do need is funding to help them fulfill the third goal (informing Americans about the countries where they served), which the Congress and the Peace Corps have never adequately provided. Strangely and sadly, the 2009 version of Senator Dodd's Peace Corps authorization deletes the authorization for these grants that was included in his 2007 bill. If the Congress wants to honor the RPCVs, these grants should be the focus, not a monument of marble and bronze.
The principal proponent of this proposal, the National Peace Corps Association, has not as yet acted on a pending proposal to raise up to $7 million for the project. To begin to raise these funds before this monument is authorized would be premature. It should not do so, but rather, should focus its fundraising on endowing a program to support returned and current Volunteers. The proposed $7 million could endow 35 $10,000 grants per year for Volunteers, a much better use of these funds.
The sentiment for the monument is seems similar to that driving NPCA's "more Peace Corps" campaign to double Peace Corps funding, e.g. that the Peace Corps should be immune from serious criticism and reform because it embodies great ideas and attracts idealistic Americans. This type of sentimentality stands in the way of reflection, renewal and reform and has led to atrophy at the agency.
Indeed, The Peace Corps has deeply embedded and fundamental problems. The pervasive mismanagement is documented by the Volunteers in the 2008 Peace Corps survey. There are perhaps 15 well-managed programs out of more than 70. The Volunteers are voting with their feet with 35% terminating before completing their service. The Peace Corps claims that 20 countries are "shovel ready" for the Peace Corps and that there is a big surplus of applicants. Both assertions are contrary to fact. The Peace Corps record of First Goal results (development projects abroad) is undocumented and unevaluated. Can anyone name a single development idea or program that the Peace Corps has taken to scale worldwide? These issues are discussed in depth in the Peace Corps reform plan that we have published (see attached).
Finally, the future of the Peace Corps is not clear. Congress has enacted legislation and supported funding for another program, Volunteers for Prosperity (the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act), which will compete directly with the Peace Corps. The new program relies on the AmeriCorps model of placing volunteers with NGOs at one quarter the cost per individual. Over the next 10 years we'll see if the Peace Corps model-one that is bureaucratic, risk averse and spending $45,000 per Volunteer per year-is more effective than a decentralized, private sector approach. Then we'll know if the Peace Corps has stood the test of time and competition. For now it's premature to say how relevant the Peace Corps model of service will be over the long term.
We urge you to oppose this proposal and protect the National Mall from narrow and special interest commemorative monuments. We urge you to consider whether the Congress and NPCA will be embarrassed by this transparent act of self-congratulation. What we need is fundamental Peace Corps reform so that this program does not continue to atrophy. We need Third Goal funding. And, as for satisfaction and pride in service, RPCVs have those in their hearts.
By way of introduction, we have both twice served as Peace Corps Volunteers (Chuck: Nepal, 68-70, and Senegal, 05-07; Paula, Kenya 68-70 and Senegal 05-07). Chuck serves on the Board of the National Peace Corps Association, served as an advisor to the Obama transition team for the Peace Corps, and founded Friends of Nepal. We were selected by Senator Chris Dodd to represent the 8000 Volunteers in his July 2007 hearing on Peace Corps reform, flying in from Senegal at our own expense. Chuck served on the staff of various House and Senate Committees between 1965 and 2005 and the staff of the Carter White House and Federal Trade Commission. He also served for seven and a half years as the principal lobbyist for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). Paula has served on the Friends of Kenya Board and has had a 35-year career as a teacher, journalist, writer, and editor.
It is because we love the Peace Corps and believe in its ideals that we have led the push to secure fundamental Peace Corps reform and now take the lead in opposing the commemorative monument.
Thank you very much for considering our point of view.
Chuck Ludlam and Paula Hirschoff