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Briefings

The Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense project seeks to educate policymakers and opinion leaders about current issues in foreign affairs and defense resource planning, with a particular focus on opportunities and options for reform.  As a part of this strategy, Dr. Gordon Adams conducts regular briefings for Congressional staff members, Administration officials, academic audiences, and professional groups on areas of current research.  The following are summaries of recent briefings and events by the Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense project. 

Dr. Adams appears on This Week in Defense News with Vago Muradian

August 1, 2010

Sunday, August 1st, Dr. Gordon Adams appeared on This Week in Defense News, hosted by Vago Muradian. Dr. Adams was joined by Todd Harrison from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments to form an expert roundtable to discuss the Defense Business Board report that recommended significant cuts to the defense budget.  Click here to view the entire discussion.

Dr. Adams testifies before HASC subcommittee

July 20, 2010

On July 20, 2010, Dr. Gordon Adams testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs as part of a hearing titled, “Rethinking Our Defense Budget: Achieving National Security through Sustainable Spending.” The other witnesses were Carl J. Conetta of the Project on Defense Alternatives, Dr. Benjamin H. Friedman of the Cato Institute, Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, and Gary J. Schmitt of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Adams testified that defense planners have not yet addressed the “emerging tidal wave” posed by the country’s ever-increasing debt and deficits. He cautioned that, just as support skyrocketed for “unprecedented growth in the defense budget” at the beginning of the American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, we ought to expect a parallel decline in this support as US troops being to withdraw from both countries. This matters because the “wars have contributed significantly to the lack of discipline in defense budgeting.” His entire testimony can be accessed here.

Gordon Adams appears on “This Week in Defense News” with Vago Muradian

June 13, 2010

Sunday, June 13, our own Dr. Gordon Adams appeared on This Week in Defense News, hosted by Vago Muradian. Dr. Adams was joined by Rick Maze from Army Times, Loren Thompson from the Lexington Institute and John Barry of Newsweek to form an expert roundtable on security and defense issues. Spirited discussion ranged from Obama’s potential veto of the National Defense Authorization Act over the unwanted F-35 alternate engine, to political bargaining with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Secretary Gates’ retirement and the future of the Defense budget following troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan. (Half)-jokingly dubbed “the Pentagon’s worst nightmare” while serving at OMB during the Clinton Administration, Dr. Adams predicted that Defense might see deep cuts a lot sooner than even Secretary Gates may think. But the experts all agreed: whether they come in six months or two years, topline cuts to DOD are coming.

See the full episode on the show’s website. Try full-screen for HD picture and sound!

Dr. Adams Testifies Before HASC Subcommittee

June 9, 2010

On June 9, 2010 Dr. Gordon Adams testified before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Armed Services Committee.  In testimony titled “Interagency National Security Reform: The Road Ahead,”  Dr. Adams offered substantive analysis of the challenges and presented recommendations for improving interagency coordination. He discussed the intrinsic link between resources and policy and emphasized that matching resources to policy priorities is thus a crucial part of solving our interagency dilemmas. With regard to the American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dr. Adams noted that these operations will not serve as useful examples in future operations because future commitments likely will depend far more on civilian agency leadership. The entire testimony can be accessed here.

Dr. Adams Briefs Congressional Staff at the Capitol

March 5, 2010

Gordon Adams, former Associate Director for National Security and International Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget, joined the Stimson Center’s Security for a New Century briefing series for a discussion of the FY 2011 budget and the tools of national security.  Adams is co-author ofBuying National Security: How America Plans and Pays for its Global Role and Safety at Home (Routledge 2010).

Dr. Adams introduced his new book first by explaining its rationale, to provide a detailed overview of the national security and foreign policy budget processes within and across the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government. Not only did he focus on agencies with clear national security and foreign policy missions, but also on domestic agencies with international components. This increasingly diverse group of agencies and the lack of institutionalized budget planning processes throughout the Executive and Legislative branches make budgeting for national security even more complex.

The allocation of an increasing proportion of the discretionary budget to the Department of Defense has contributed to a growing imbalance between the civilian and military instruments of statecraft. Overreliance stresses military capacity and capability, militarizes U.S. foreign policy, and undermines the institutions of the Department of State and USAID.

Questions focused on the political and institutional challenges to rebalancing departmental budgets controlling defense spending. Dr. Adams emphasized shared discipline and political will across the Executive and Legislative branches. Politics both inside Washington and across the country reinforce defense spending and make this discipline particularly difficult. As a consequence, DOD struggles at setting priorities while Congress often omits the probing scrutiny typical of other budget requests. The annual ‘unfunded requirements’ exchange represents this problem well, as does the exclusion of national security appropriations from the proposed budget freeze.

The event concluded with a discussion of how well the State Department’s capability and organizational culture match its mission. Dr. Adams noted that larger capacity is not always more effective. Increased appropriations are a necessary step, but are not by themselves enough to reinvigorate this department. Also needed is a strategic planning process a focus on execution.

Security for a New Century is a bipartisan briefing series for Congress. They meet regularly with U.S. and international policy professionals to discuss the post-Cold War and post-9/11 security environment. All discussions are off-the-record. It is not an advocacy venue. For more information, please call Mark Yarnell at (202) 224-7560 or write tomark_yarnell@lugar.senate.gov.


Dr. Adams Testifies before the Senate Budget Committee

February 23, 2010

Testifying for the Senate Budget Committee’s “Hearing on Defense Budget and War Costs: An Independent Look,” Dr. Adams proposed a defense budget topline freeze as an option to curb continuing increases in defense spending and to restore fiscal discipline at DoD.  “The new Quadrennial Defense Review,” he stated, “opened the door to unlimited mission expansion and budget growth.  It did not set priorities or make major tradeoffs in the DOD budget request.” To meet the freeze target, Dr. Adams recommended that Congress should more closely scrutinize the budget requests for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which may include long-term procurement items not intended for the wars.  “Particular attention should be paid to the Army’s Brigade Combat Team – Modernization” vehicle program. “The new budget request contains $3.2 billion for this program.  This is virtually the same level of funding as was provided in previous years as part of the Future Combat Systems program, which was very similar in purpose and was terminated by Congress last year.”

Read Dr. Adams’ full testimony

Panel Discussion at Stimson/AU Launch of Buying National Security

February 18, 2010

The Stimson Center and American University joined forces to launch Buying National Security, a unique roadmap for readers on how national security budgets come together, de-mystifying the institutions, organizations, processes and politics that support planning and resource allocation.  The joint AU/Stimson panel was moderated by Louis Goodman, Dean of the School of International Service at American University, and featured co-author of the book, Dr. Gordon Adams, Dr. Sharon Weiner, assistant professor at American University, and Dr. Julie Fischer, Senior Fellow at the Stimson Center.

Dr. Adams spoke about the necessity for such a resource, as Buying National Security is the only study of cross-government budgeting for national security that has ever been written.  Dr. Weiner addressed ad hoc interagency coordination and Dr. Fischer described the new integration of global health budgets.

David Glaudemans and Bill Bacchus Speak at the National Defense University

November 20, 2008

Speaking at the National Defense University’s Seminar Series on Stability Operations, David Glaudemans and Bill Bacchus highlighted the major budgetary and organizational issues with creating a civilian contingency force capability.  Speaking alongside Richard Kugler (Distinguished Research Professor at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy), Glaudemans and Bacchus examined the cost to create a 15,000 member civilian contingency force.  The cost (over $2 billion), is “only one hurdle Congress and the Obama adminsitration must overcome to make this civilian force a reality.  Defining the roles and responsibilities of the State Department, DOD, and the White House, along with the human resource issues may prove to be the most difficult obstacle to overcome” according to Glaudemans.  Yet, this capacity is likely to be a vital component of a future multi-lateral diplomatic agenda and is necessary for the United States to carry out its role as a global leader.

Dr. Adams Testifies before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee

July 31, 2008

Dr. Gordon Adams called for far-reaching reform in the way the State Department, USAID and the civilian agencies of the U.S. national security toolkit are structured and managed, in testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia, chaired by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI). The hearing entitled “A Reliance on Smart Power: Reforming the Foreign Assistance Bureaucracy” focused on ways the Congress and the next administration can address serious shortfalls in civilian resources, personnel and efficiency for U.S. foreign assistance and national security. Dr. Adams stressed the need for recruiting and training a new generation of Foreign Service officers and civil servants in order to strengthen the capacity of State and USAID. Other witnesses included Richard Greene, Deputy Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance; Leo Hindery, Vice-Chairman of the HELP Commission; Anne Richard, Vice President for Government Relations and Advocacy for the International Rescue Committee; Samuel Worthington, President and CEO of Interaction; and Dr. Gerald Hyman, Senior Advisor at CSIS.

Read his testimony

RAND Corporation

June 17, 2008

Distinguished Fellow Dr. Gordon Adams briefed the RAND Corporation today on the need to re-balance and strengthen the US national security toolkit.  This includes the civilian and military agencies and the interagency processes that are designed to more effectively integrate these tools.

Hill Staffers Briefing

May 29, 2008

Dr. Gordon Adams briefed over 50 Hill Staffers on the trends in security assistance, the diaspora of foreign assistance and the need for interagency reform among the organizations relevant to US national security policy.  Sponsored by the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Dr. Adams outlined some of the main themes in national security resource planning and budgeting that hinder efforts to produce strategic and effective planning for national security.

Dr. Adams Briefs the Congressional Research Service

May 20, 2008

Dr. Gordon Adams briefed the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on Tuesday.  He discussed a wide range of issues including the increased role of the Defense Department in stabilization and reconstruction, the “diaspora” of foreign assistance, as well as the new “F” process and the Director of Foreign Assistance at State/USAID.

Truman Foundation

May 16, 2008

Speaking before the Truman Foundation, Dr. Gordon Adams highlighted the need to “Re-balance the National Security Toolkit.”  Adams talked about the expanding DOD portfolio in foreign engagement, specifically the DOD’s proposed legislative package – “The Building Global Partnerships Act”- that seeks to expand and write into permanent law many of the new DOD-led assistance programs that have emerged since 2001.  In addition, Dr. Adams argued that the “diaspora” of existing foreign assistance accounts and organizations make creating a new Department of Development a difficult if not impossible task that would in fact hinder the effort to increase funding for foreign assistance and international development.

Dr. Adams speaks at Stanford University

May 9, 2008

Dr. Adams flew to the West coast this week to talk about how the US plans and budgets programs to support good governance around the world.  In his talk, Dr. Adams pulled together all the spigots of funding for “governance” programs in the federal government and talked about the wide array of budget accounts, bureaus, agencies and programs employed by the federal government to promote good governance.  He also highlighted some of the major recipients of funding for “good governance.”  In addition to the overall theme of governance, Dr. Adams shared his findings on the “diaspora” of foreign assistance programs and the increasing role of the Defense Department in the area of stabilization and reconstruction.

Dr. Gordon Adams briefs the Government Accountability Office

May 6, 2008

Continuing his ongoing briefing series on foreign assistance reform, Dr. Gordon Adams briefed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) this Tuesday.  Dr. Adams focused on the “diaspora” of foreign assistance programs and the role of the Defense Department in new stabilization and reconstruction activities.

CSIS Smart Power Speaker Series

April 29, 2008

Distinguished Fellow and Director of the Budgeting for Foreign Affairs and Defense program at the Henry L. Stimson Center Dr. Gordon Adams was a guest at CSIS on Tuesday April 29, 2008 as part of their ongoing Smart Power Speaker Series.  Dr. Adams spoke of the need to better integrate our foreign assistance and diplomatic resources to strengthen the civilian toolkit of U.S. national security policy.  In addition, Dr. Adams called for greater interagency collaboration through an enhanced relationship between the NSC and OMB.  The discussion was moderated by Kathleen Hicks, Senior Fellow at CSIS’ International Security Program.

In his talk at CSIS, Dr. Adams said, “The cobbled-together civilian structure will never be able to manage its missions in the 21st century world if it is not significantly reformed, better integrated, funded and staffed than it is today.”  The lecture echoed Dr. Adams Senate testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where Dr. Adams called for substantial reform in the way the U.S. structures, budgets, plans and implements national security policy.

Dr. Adams testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

April 24, 2008

Dr. Gordon Adams called for far-reaching reform in the way the civilian tools for national security policy are structured and operated in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The hearing, chaired by Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) was titled “Implementing Smart Power: Setting an Agenda for National Security Reform.” Witnesses, in addition to Dr. Adams, included former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Dr. Joseph Nye or Harvard University, and the Honorable Jim Locher III.

Dr. Adams expressed concern that the nation’s civilian diplomatic agencies lack the capacity to carry out their responsibilities for national security policy. The result of this “capacity deficit” has been significant growth in the roles and responsibilities given to the Defense Department for such civilian tasks as reconstruction, foreign assistance, and public diplomacy, unbalancing the nation’s national security toolkit. “The outsourcing of our diplomatic and foreign assistance portfolio to the Pentagon has overstressed the military, weakened our civilian tools even further, and put a uniformed face on America’s international engagement,” Dr. Adams said, “As much as one can respect and value the work the military services have been doing, the consequence of this imbalance has been a more negative perception of the U.S. around the world and a reduction in the capacity of the U.S. to lead.”

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