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CRS Report – Foreign Operations Appropriations: General Provisions

From the report summary: “This report identifies the legislative origins of General Provisions that pertain to foreign aid in the current Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2009 (division J of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009; P.L. 111-8; 123 Stat. 524 at 831). . . . Over time, as enactment of foreign aid reauthorizations waned, the General Provisions of foreign appropriations measures increasingly became the place for Congress to assert its views on the role and use of U.S. foreign aid policy, put limits or conditions on assistance, or even authorize new programs.”

State Department releases “100-Day Report”

The State Department released a “100-Day Report” summarizing the “objectives” and “accomplishments” established by the new administration under the direction of Secretary of State Clinton. The report includes statements on recent budget increases, the use of “smart power,” and commitments to health and providing health services abroad.

GAO Testimony on USAID Acquisition and Assistance

In a hearing before the Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement (House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform), GAO staff provided testimony on the challenges facing the development of USAID’s strategic workforce plan for its Acquisition and Assistance (A&A) efforts. GAO stated that USAID “has shifted from conducting its own activities to managing acquisition and assistance (A&A) instruments – contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements – it awards to implementing organization” and that USAID staff are now “responsible for monitoring the activities of A&A recipients to provide reasonable assurance that the funds provided are used in accordance with applicable regulations and policies and sound business practices.” GAO found that “USAID lacks the capacity to develop and implement a strategic workforce plan because it is missing two elements: (1) sufficiently reliable and up-to-date data on its overseas A&A staff levels and (2) comprehensive information on the competencies of its overseas A&A staff.”

GAO Report – Foreign Aid Reform: Comprehensive Strategy, Interagency Coordination, and Operational Improvements Would Bolster Current Efforts

At the request of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI), and Representative Howard Berman (D-CA, 28th), the General Accountability Office (GAO) conducted an analysis of an effort initiated in January 2006 by then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice “to better align foreign assistance programs with U.S. foreign policy.” Recommendations made by the GAO to improve this alignment process include developing a government wide foreign assistance strategy, improving interdepartmental communications, and establishing a long-term workforce management plan.

CRS Report – State Foreign Operations Appropriations: A Guide to Component Accounts

From the report summary: “This report briefly discusses the legislation (State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriation legislation) generally and then provides a short description of the various funding accounts as they appear in Division H, ‘Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2009,’ of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (P.L. 111-8).”