Foreign Aid Reform, National Strategy, and the Quadrennial Review [February 15, 2011] [open pdf - 187KB]
"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."
CRS Report for Congress, R41173