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Supplemental Requests Suggest Improved Planning at State/USAID March 30, 2010

Posted by Rebecca Williams in Analysis.
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The Obama Administration recently submitted an amendment to the FY 2010 supplemental request to include an additional $2.8 billion to support relief and reconstruction efforts in Haiti.  Of this amount, $1.9 billion would be added to the International Affairs Budget FY2010 supplemental request.  If appropriated, the FY 2010 Estimate would total $58.79 billion, $280 million more than the FY2011 request.

In February, the Administration requested $58.51 billion for discretionary programs within the International Affairs function for FY 2011 and $4.46 billion in supplemental appropriations for FY 2010 for programs and initiatives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, including State Department expenses.

Although the bulk of International Affairs funding is appropriated through the regular budget cycle, supplemental resources have been an annual occurrence over the last decade.   Emergency supplemental appropriations are, by definition, designed to meet urgent and unforeseen foreign policy or assistance needs.  While supplemental appropriations are not new to Function 150, such funding in recent years has been mostly allocated to programs that assist coalition partners and key strategic allies, in addition to relief missions.

As a percentage of the top line International Affairs budget, supplemental funding actually has declined since FY2008.  Supplemental funding for the International Affairs totaled 20 percent in FY 2008, peaked at 25 percent in FY 2009 with the transition of the new Administration, and would total 11 percent for FY 2010, if fully enacted and adjusted for advance appropriations contained in the FY 2009 Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Since 2001, overall budget authority for Function 150 has been steadily increasing as the civilian components of US foreign engagement have been increased in order to meet US strategic needs in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, among other needs.  In general, supplemental funding has bolstered State and USAID’s capacity to support the transition from a military to a civilian-led effort in Iraq and build civilian partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Of course, programs and initiatives designed for countries other than these “frontline” states have also been funded through emergency supplemental appropriations.  Yet, it seems that Congress is making good on its promises to address the endemic capacity issues (fiscal or otherwise) at these civilian agencies.

There also seems to be an institutionalization of planning, as civilian agencies prepare for what will be needed in the civ-mil handoff in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Long-term projections to increase diplomatic presence and develop the necessary capabilities for success are reflected in the supplemental requests.  This trend certainly could be interrupted or reversed in the FY 2011 budget and appropriations process, but as the civilian agencies forge ahead, accurately planning and preparing for what is needed is a good sign.

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1. Taking inventory of the tools of statecraft: putting the FY2011 request in context « The Will and the Wallet - August 23, 2010

[…] President Obama submitted a request for supplemental FY10 appropriations at the same time as the FY2011 proposal and amended this request in March to account for costs associated with relief and reconstruction support in Haiti.  If passed in full, these appropriations would substantially increase FY2010 spending and, consequently, reduce FY2011 growth projections.  Supplemental appropriations requests include $37.5 billion for operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan ($33 billion for defense and $4.5 for international affairs), as well as $2.8 billion for efforts in Haiti. […]


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