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The End of Section 1207? Boosting State/USAID Contingency Capabilities December 14, 2009

Posted by Trice Kabundi in Analysis.
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The End of Section 1207? Boosting State/USAID Contingency Capabilities

by Dr. Gordon Adams

Civilian contingency operations capabilities at State and USAID will get a major boost this year, thanks to Congress’ action on funding for State and foreign operations included in the FY 2010 Omnibus Appropriations bill (HR3288).

Most significant, the bill provides the civilian agencies with a contingency account to support projects in the area of stabilization and reconstruction (S&R) operations.  It consolidates the President’s budget requests for civilian reconstruction and stabilization spending into a new contingency account – the Complex Crises Fund (CCF) – which it locates at USAID.  This account represents a first step in strengthening State/USAID funding flexibility for contingency operations, part of a growing effort by the executive branch and the Congress to rebalance the civilian and military missions and portfolios.

Until this bill, State has been unable to convince Congress to provide it with contingency funding for S&R operations.  Instead, State has relied on funds transferred from DOD under Section 1207 of DOD’s authorizing legislation.  Section 1207 allows DOD to transfer a specific amount of DOD funding to State for S&R projects, nearly all of which have been outside of Iraq and Afghanistan. Congress argued that 1207 was needed until State’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) could be “stood up and adequately resourced.”

Today, Congress views 1207 and transfers from DOD as inappropriate, so has begun to provide such funding directly to State, along with a contingency account to administer them.  This account consolidates the Administration’s requests for a Rapid Response Fund and a Stabilization Bridge Fund, and locates them at USAID. While not as large as the current Section 1207 authority ($100 m. in FY 2010), the bill provided $50 million in non-earmarked contingency funding to address “unforeseen complex crises overseas.”  

The bill also begins to deal with question of which agency should have responsibility for such operation – State or USAID – but it leaves much of the resolution of this troubled relationship to the agencies.  Both State and USAID have responsibilities and capabilities for the civilian aspects of US S&R efforts.

S/CRS was created in 2004 to recruit and train a civilian force for S&R operations (now called the Civilian Stabilization Initiative), to develop a framework and operational concept for such operations, to deploy such a force, and to coordinate such operations on an interagency basis.  It has begun the first task, with additional funding from the Congress in 2008, has made significant progress on the second, has done only a few small deployments, and has lacked the clout to coordinate operations, either inside State or through the interagency.

Most of S/CRS’ effort has focused on creating the active-duty Civilian Response Corps (CRC), but questions remain as to the appropriate size of the CRC (given that another large-scale, post-conflict reconstruction effort, such as Iraq, is highly unlikely) and the appropriate institutional home for such an operational capability.  USAID has, for some years, had an Office of Transition Initiatives, with significant involvement in governance transition projects overseas. Its participation in the Civilian Response Corps has been growing, as well.

The new bill straddles this issue.  Congress provides increased funding for training and recruiting the civilian force and its administrative costs, but makes those funds available both to S/CRS ($120 million) and, for the first time, to USAID ($30 million).

Congress has made it clear it will support such a capability, but has also made it clear that it believes USAID may be the more appropriate location for project development and implementation.  The State Department’s QDDR will need to grapple with this complex institutional relationship, determining which agency is more appropriate to recruit, train, and deploy the growing civilian S&R capability and to develop and implement the short-term civilian capacity projects that will be needed in states experiencing governance and security crises, pre- or post-conflict.

FY 2010 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill

($ in millions)

Stabilization & Reconstruction Programs Obama Request State/ Foreign Operations Bill
Civilian Stabilization Initiative (CSI) $323 $150
Stabilization Bridge Fund $40
Transition Initiatives (TI) $126 $55
Rapid Response Fund $76
Complex Crisis Fund (CCF)* $50
Total (CSI, Bridge, TI and CCF) $489 $255
*The Senate proposed a similar fund titled the Emergency Crisis Fund.


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