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The US State Department plays a critical role in US government efforts to promote development and address humanitarian crises around the world, including managing US contributions to international organizations such as the UN and World Bank, overseeing the US commitment to fight global HIV/AIDS through PEPFAR, and facilitating aid to refugees and other vulnerable populations. CGD analyses State’s policies and practices across the range of its activities, as well as the Department’s own structure and operations, offering evidence-based proposals to make this central tool of US foreign assistance as effective as it can be.
The Trump administration delivered its FY 2019 budget request to Capitol Hill this week. Containing deep cuts to the international affairs budget, it looks a lot like a repeat of the FY 2018 request. And with a 30 percent reduction in topline spending, few programs were spared. Meanwhile, buried among the rubble are smart reform ideas that run the risk of being overshadowed—or even undermined—by the depth of the proposed spending reductions.
Debt relief is high on the Sudanese government’s agenda. This week’s budget proposals coming out of the White House indicate that Sudan may finally get its wish—but there’s something weird about where the money comes from. Here I offer an alternative.
Speculation about the future of the State Department’s Population, Refugees, and Migration bureau has swirled following the Trump administration’s moves to curtail refugee admissions, and a proposal to eliminate the bureau and distribute its components to the Department of Homeland Security and USAID. But I fear that diminishing or removing an empowered humanitarian voice from the State Department weakens humanitarian priorities in US policy writ large. And I believe there are ways to address legitimate concerns about the existing structure without dismantling PRM.
The very same week that USAID and the Department of State submitted a joint redesign plan to the Office of Management and Budget, the coauthors of four recent reform proposals packed the CGD stage for a timely debate. Fragmentation, inclusive economic growth, humanitarian assistance and fragile states, global health, and country graduation were a few of the big questions that panel members grappled with as they authored their reports.
With plans for a redesign of the State Department and United States Agency for International Development well under way, this is a critical moment for an informed discussion of the latest reforms proposals that will make US foreign assistance more effective and efficient. Please join us for a bipartisan debate featuring authors of four recent reports that outline options for reform and reorganization of US global development functions. The event will bring to light key areas of consensus and divergence among experts, and will aim to highlight emerging organizing principles for the future of US foreign assistance, potential structural changes to the US global development architecture, and opportunities for building momentum in a fluid political and legislative environment.
The White House, State Department, and US Agency for International Development (USAID) reviews have rightly emphasized addressing duplication and inefficiency. But rather than focusing on a State/USAID merger, as has been widely rumored, the administration should look at something that leads to some of the biggest duplications, triplications, and even quadruplications of capacity that exists in the US government: the severe fragmentation of US development assistance.