In 1961, the United States Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act to administer long-range economic and humanitarian assistance to developing countries. Two months after passage of the act, President John F. Kennedy established the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID unified pre-existing U.S. Government assistance programs and served as the U.S. Government’s lead international development and humanitarian assistance agency, a role that it continues today.
USAID is an independent Federal agency that receives overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State. With headquarters in Washington, D.C. and 87 missions worldwide, the Agency provides economic development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States. USAID accelerates human progress in developing countries by reducing poverty, advancing democracy, building market economies, promoting security, responding to crises, and improving the quality of life. Working with governments, institutions, and civil society, the Agency assists individuals to build their own futures by mobilizing the full range of America’s public and private resources through U.S. expert presence overseas.
For the past three years, USAID has embarked on an aggressive effort to increase and revitalize its workforce. The Development Leadership Initiative strengthened USAID’s overseas workforce, substantially increasing Foreign Service staff to address critical development and humanitarian assistance issues. At the end of FY 2010, USAID employees totaled 8,610 individuals, including 1,811 Foreign Service Officers, 1,353 direct-hire Civil Service Officers, 4,487 Foreign Service Nationals, and 959 other non-direct-hire employees. Of these employees, 2,411 are based in Washington and 6,199 are deployed overseas.
USAID plans its development and assistance programs in close coordination with the Department of State, and collaborates with a variety of other U.S. Government agencies, multilateral and bilateral organizations, private companies, academic institutions, and nongovernmental organizations.
The Department of State is the lead U.S. foreign affairs agency within the Executive Branch and the Secretary of State is the President’s principal foreign policy advisor. Established by Congress in 1789, the Department is the oldest and most senior executive agency of the U.S. Government. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., it implements United States foreign policy worldwide.
The Department of State promotes and protects the interests of American citizens by:
The late Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan from January 2009 to December 2010, meets with Afghan officials and local leaders in Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, June 2010. Department of State
The Department operates more than 270 Embassies, consulates, and other posts worldwide staffed by more than 13,000 Foreign Service officers and 43,000 locally employed staff. In each Embassy, the Chief of Mission (usually an Ambassador) is responsible for executing U.S. foreign policy goals and for coordinating and managing all U.S. Government functions in the host country. The President appoints each Ambassador, who is then confirmed by the Senate. Chiefs of Mission report directly to the President through the Secretary. U.S. Missions are the primary U.S. Government points of contact for Americans overseas and foreign nationals of host countries. Missions serve the needs of Americans traveling, working, and studying abroad, and support Presidential and congressional delegations visiting the country. In addition to Foreign Service officers, a Civil Service corps of over 10,000 employees provides a base of continuity and expertise in performing all aspects of the Department’s mission. The Department’s mission is accomplished through six regional bureaus, each of which is responsible for a specific geographic region of the world, the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, and numerous functional and management bureaus. These bureaus provide policy guidance, program management, administrative support, and in-depth expertise in diverse matters such as law enforcement, economics, the environment, intelligence, arms control, human rights, counternarcotics, counterterrorism, public diplomacy, humanitarian assistance, security, nonproliferation, and consular services.
In carrying out its responsibilities, the Department of State consults with Congress about foreign policy initiatives and programs, and works in close coordination with other Federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Commerce, among others.
The Foreign Assistance Dashboard was created in response to the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and President Obama’s Open Government Initiative to provide a visual presentation of and access to key U.S. Government-wide foreign assistance budget and appropriation data in a user-friendly way. The QDDR highlights the importance of embracing transparency and holding the United States accountable for achieving results. The goal of the Foreign Assistance Dashboard is to give a wide variety of stakeholders, including U.S. citizens, civil society organizations, the Congress, U.S. Government agencies, donors, and partner-country governments the ability to examine, research, and track U.S. foreign assistance investments in an accessible and easy-to-understand format. The Dashboard received over 20,000 site visits in its first month, and continues to be celebrated in the blogosphere by nongovernmental organizations and Government agencies alike. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy writes in its blog that the Dashboard makes it “easier than ever for policymakers, civil society, and the public to understand U.S. investments and their impact around the globe. . . . Civic-minded developers and researchers can download any and all of the Dashboard’s data in a machine-readable format to mash, visualize, and analyze U.S. budget data in new ways.”
The Dashboard currently contains Department of State and USAID budget and appropriation data, but in the future will include budget, financial, program, and performance data in a standard form from all U.S. Government agencies receiving or implementing foreign assistance. Foreign assistance investments are presented through a variety of user-friendly graphics on this site, including funding by country, by sector, and by year. Users can filter and sort the datasets in other ways by generating their own tables through manual queries and downloading machine-readable data sets.