CSIS Paper on the Erosion of USAID

Gerald Hyman, senior advisor and president of CSIS’ Hill Program on Governance, recently published a report chronicling how the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and more generally US development policy has become a tool used to achieve other foreign policy objectives . In “Foreign Policy and Development: Structure, Process, Policy and the Drip-by-Drip Erosion of USAID” Hyman argues that the Obama administration has created a plan whereby USAID will become fully integrated into the State Department—the result of decisions made over preceding administrations.

Hyman’s report takes a close look at how development became integrated into broader national security objectives, providing a step-by-step or administration-by-administration analysis of when securities and authorities were stripped at USAID.  He concludes with a detailed analysis of the effect USAID’s erosion had on its policy, structures, and procedures.  Read the full report here and see below for key excerpts:

“Ironically, while foreign assistance has grown in importance in U.S. foreign policy over the past two decades, it has deteriorated organizationally, substantively, and procedurally. It will not take long to see how great a difference the deterioration in structure and process will have on development content. Already, the tangible erosion has had discernable, negative effects on the quality of analysis, internal discourse, and decisionmaking.”

“Development would become central to the national security framework along with defense and diplomacy. Notwithstanding the mutual tensions of a long-married couple, their otherwise comfortable relation with one another, their common presumptions and understandings, and their shared language would be interrupted. USAID would lose its independence and its approach to development, as well as its way of doing business, a way its development partners had come to know if not always to respect. Both USAID and its partners would grow concerned—ambivalently—that in exchange for their centrality, the fundamental development agenda, as they saw it, might be polluted by security and foreign policy objectives.”

“Both the George W. Bush and now the Barack Obama administrations have elevated and trumpeted development assistance as a core element of U.S. foreign policy and national security. Loudly and forcefully, they have asserted that development is not a matter of charity or obligation or standing among industrial countries. Rather, they have said, it occupies a central position in U.S. national security policy, a position on a par with defense and diplomacy, and a position quite at odds with the traditional view of many in Congress that foreign assistance is a dispensable drag on the national budget. Leaving aside whether that startling assertion is credible and leaving aside its implications for the policy and delivery of U.S. foreign assistance, and disregarding how that affects the conception of recipient countries and other donors and the ability of the U.S. to cooperate with them on development programs and policies, it simply does not square at all with the way the successive administrations (and their less ambitious predecessors) have dealt with foreign assistance as a practical (rather than rhetorical) matter.”

You Might Also Like