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Monday, February 28, 2011

Foreign Aid Reform, National Strategy, and the Quadrennial Review


Susan B. Epstein
Specialist in Foreign Policy

Several development proponents, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and policymakers have pressed Congress to reform U.S. foreign aid capabilities to better address 21st century development needs and national security challenges. Over the past 50 years, the legislative foundation for U.S. foreign aid has evolved largely by amending the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (P.L. 87-195), the primary statutory basis for U.S. foreign aid programs, and enacting separate freestanding laws to reflect specific U.S. foreign policy interests. Many describe U.S. aid programs as fragmented, cumbersome, and not finely tuned to address overseas needs or U.S. national security interests. Lack of a comprehensive congressional reauthorization of foreign aid for half of those 50 years compounds the perceived weakness of U.S. aid programs and statutes.

The structure of U.S. foreign aid entities, as well as implementation and follow-up monitoring of the effectiveness of aid programs, have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. Criticisms include a lack of focus and coherence overall; too many agencies involved in delivering aid with inadequate coordination or leadership; lack of flexibility, responsiveness, and transparency of aid programs; and a perceived lack of progress in some countries that have been aid recipients for decades. Over the last decade a number of observers have expressed a growing concern about the increasing involvement of the Department of Defense in foreign aid activities. At issue, too, has been whether the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) or the Department of State should be designated as the lead agency in delivering, monitoring, and assessing aid, and what the relationship between the two should be.

The Obama Administration, led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, announced action to seek solutions to the problems associated with foreign aid and begin the process of reform. Secretary Clinton announced in July 2009 that the Department of State would conduct a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) to address issues involving State Department and USAID capabilities and resources to meet 21
st century demands. In September 2010, the President signed a Presidential Study Directive (PSD) on U.S. Global Development Policy to address overarching government department and agency issues regarding foreign aid activities and coordination. Secretary Clinton presented the QDDR report in December 2010.

Foreign aid reform was a key area of focus throughout the 111
th Congress, although no comprehensive reform legislation was enacted. Representative Berman, then-chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) in the 111th Congress, stated on the committee website in 2009 and 2010 how foreign assistance reform was a top priority. In 2009, he introduced H.R. 2139, Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act of 2009. Between July 2009 and May 2010, Chairman Berman released several discussion papers on foreign aid reform, as well as a discussion draft of the first 55 pages of possible foreign aid reform legislation.

In the Senate, Senator Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), Senator Lugar, ranking minority member, and others introduced a reform bill, S. 1524, the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009. The Senate did not consider H.R. 2410, the House-passed Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 2010 and 2011 requiring a national strategy for development and a quadrennial review of diplomacy and development.

Foreign aid reform may continue to be a concern in the 112
th Congress. This report addresses aid reform through early 2011 and will not be updated.


Date of Report: February 15, 2011
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: R41173
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

International Food Aid: U.S. and Other Donor Contributions


Charles E. Hanrahan
Senior Specialist in Agricultural Policy

Carol Canada
Information Research Specialist


The United States is the world’s major provider of international food aid to low-income developing countries. This report provides three indicators of the U.S. contribution to global food aid: (1) shipments of major donors compiled by the International Grains Council (IGC), (2) U.S. contributions to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), and (3) the U.S. commitment under the 1999 Food Aid Convention (FAC).

Data from the International Grains Council show that U.S. food aid accounted for 58% of food aid shipments by major donors during 1995/96-2008/09.

A substantial portion of U.S. food aid is channeled through the WFP. During 1996-2010, around 48% of donor contributions to the WFP came from the United States.

The Food Aid Convention (FAC), now expired, was an agreement among donor countries to provide a minimum amount of food aid to low-income developing countries. The food aid commitment agreed to by all FAC signatories in 1999 was approximately 4.9 million metric tons (mmt). The United States pledged to provide 2.5 mmt or 51% of the total commitment.

Although the Food Aid Convention has expired, member countries of the IGC’s Food Aid Committee have continued to meet regularly to review food aid needs and food aid shipments. At its December 2010 meeting, Food Aid Committee member countries agreed to begin a formal process of renegotiating the convention.



Date of Report: Febrary 11, 2011
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: RS21279
Price: $29.95

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Foreign Aid: An Introduction to U.S. Programs and Policy

Curt Tarnoff
Specialist in Foreign Affairs

Marian Leonardo Lawson
Analyst in Foreign Assistance


Foreign assistance is a fundamental component of the international affairs budget and is viewed by many as an essential instrument of U.S. foreign policy. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, foreign aid has increasingly been associated with national security policy. U.S. foreign aid policy has developed around three primary rationales: national security, commercial interests, and humanitarian concerns. These broad rationales are the basis for the myriad objectives of U.S. assistance, including promoting economic growth, reducing poverty, improving governance, expanding access to health care and education, promoting stability in conflictive regions, promoting human rights, strengthening allies, and curbing illicit drug production and trafficking.

In FY2010, U.S. foreign assistance totaled $39.4 billion, or 1.1% of total budget authority. In real terms, this was the highest level of U.S. foreign assistance since 1985. The U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department, the primary administrators of U.S. foreign assistance, provided $10.38 billion in security-related assistance; $10.93 billion for health, education, and social welfare programs; $3.64 billion for governance programs; $5.21 for economic growth activities; and $4.98 in humanitarian assistance. Assistance can take the form of cash transfers, equipment and commodities, infrastructure, or technical assistance, and, in recent decades, is provided almost exclusively on a grant rather than loan basis.

Key foreign assistance trends in the past decade include growth in development and humanitarian aid, particularly global health programs, and, in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, increased security assistance directed toward U.S. allies in the anti-terrorism effort. In FY2010, Afghanistan, Israel, Pakistan, Egypt, and Haiti were the top recipients of U.S. aid, reflecting long-standing aid commitments to Israel and Egypt, the strategic significance of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and emergency earthquake-related assistance to Haiti. Africa is the top recipient region of U.S. aid, at 29%, with the Near East and South and Central Asia each receiving 26%. This is a significant shift from FY2000, when the Near East received 60% of U.S. aid, and reflects significant increases in HIV/AIDS-related programs concentrated in Africa and the expansion of security assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Other notable trends since FY2000 include the increasing role of the Department of Defense in foreign assistance and aid targeted at countries that have demonstrated a commitment to good governance, exemplified by the creation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

This report provides an overview of the U.S. foreign assistance program by answering frequently asked questions on the subject. It is intended to provide a broad view of foreign assistance over time, and will be updated periodically. For more current information on foreign aid funding levels, see CRS reports on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriations.



Date of Report: February 10, 2011
Number of Pages: 37
Order Number: R40213
Price: $29.95

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