This is a joint post with Rita Perakis.
What are the objectives of U.S. foreign aid programs? Development itself? National security? Improving diplomatic relations? Humanitarian response to emergencies?
One answer to that question comes from what Congress and the Administration say – in the Presidential Study Directive, President Obama’s development speech at the United Nations, what Secretary Clinton said in her development speech last year, and what Administrator Raj Shah has been saying in recent speeches. And of course what the Congress says in authorizing legislation --- but oops the Foreign Assistance Act is 50 years old (and hasn’t even been reauthorized since 1985), as lamented in this 2-minute video.
Jean Arkedis in a recent CGD paper (done when she was seconded from the State Department two years ago) says that the U.S. government isn’t very clear about those objectives – and why not clarify by assigning spending lines in the federal budget to one or more of those objectives above? Recently Connie Veillette has also weighed in.