The Office of Foreign Assistance is responsible for the supervision and overall strategic direction of foreign assistance programs administered by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). 

The Secretary of State created the Office of Foreign Assistance in 2006 to improve strategic coordination of and oversight over all foreign assistance funding, focusing on efficacy and strategy. Since then, drawing on expertise from both USAID and State personnel, the Office has provided senior level expertise to Secretaries of State and USAID Administrators across Presidential Administrations. 

The Secretary of State has overall responsibility and authority for the direction and coordination of most U.S. foreign assistance, including all assistance authorized by the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Arms Export Control Act. The Secretary delegates authorities to the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources (D-MR) and the Director of Foreign Assistance (F) for the supervision and direction of foreign assistance under Department of State Delegation of Authority 293-2. 

Historically, the Director of Foreign Assistance has been at different times a dual-hatted USAID Administrator, a career Senior Executive Service employee, or a State Department Administratively Determined employee.  The core responsibility for this role is coordinating across relevant government entities, especially between the State Department and USAID.  

What is Foreign Assistance? 

Most U.S. foreign assistance falls under the International Affairs Budget.  According to the House of Representatives, this budget covers “U.S. international activities, including operating U.S. embassies and consulates throughout the world; providing military assistance to allies; aiding developing nations; dispensing economic assistance to fledgling democracies; promoting U.S. exports abroad; making U.S. payments to international organizations; and contributing to international peacekeeping efforts.”  

Agencies that receive funding through this budget include the Departments of State, Agriculture and Treasury; USAID; the Peace Corps; and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.  Historically, the State Department and USAID comprise more than 90% of the U.S. International Affairs Budget.  

Foreign assistance can be divided into three broad categories:  

Economic and Development Assistance 

Advances our national security by helping countries meet near-term political, economic, and development needs.  

Humanitarian Assistance 

Supports disaster and emergency relief efforts, including programs that save lives, alleviate suffering, and maintain human dignity.  

Security Assistance 

Fosters stability and security abroad by strengthening the military and law enforcement forces in our partner countries through capacity building and training and helps countries purchase defense equipment and services produced in the United States.  

U.S. Department of State

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