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U.S. State Department, USAID Reorganization Plans Should Strengthen USAID Administrator, Allow USAID More Control Over Foreign Assistance Budget

Foreign Policy: Let USAID Run USAID
Daniel Runde, William A. Schreyer chair at CSIS

“…For the last 10 years, USAID’s spending decisions have been controlled by the so called ‘F office’ (a central accounting and budgeting office) at the State Department. Now, under the Trump administration’s draft plans for reorganization, it seems likely that USAID will be held accountable for managing all foreign assistance implemented by USAID, while the State Department, through a more refined F office, will be responsible for State Department-controlled monies that are implemented by the State Department (checks to U.N. agencies, security sector assistance, etc.). … F has impeded the timely distribution of foreign assistance funds to USAID missions in the field. … In F’s current form, foreign assistance objectives have at times lost out to foreign policy objectives. This may produce outcomes counterproductive to both foreign policy and long-term development objectives. … In [a recent report, a CSIS task force] recommended that we ‘dual hat’ the USAID administrator as coordinator of all foreign assistance reporting to the Secretary of State, also giving him or her the authority to manage foreign assistance resources. … We need a strong State Department and a strong USAID that have the tools to succeed. The on-going reorganization at State and USAID should clarify roles and responsibilities. Control of the foreign policy budget should be with those accountable for execution of foreign policy. Control of the foreign assistance budget should be with those accountable for execution of foreign assistance. Strengthening the USAID administrator as the person solely responsible is a part of ensuring we are using all tools of American power effectively” (12/19).

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