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POLICY November 2008


U.S. Government Development
Assistance Funding Trends
Dramatically ramp up the resources invested in poverty-focused humanitarian and
The U.S. under- development assistance along with the personnel and systems that administer and
invests in proven deliver such assistance.
programs for foreign
development and
humanitarian Actions
assistance. U.S.
assistance remains • Request a major increase in FY2010 funding for development and humanitar-
at historically low ian accounts, including the seven development and humanitarian Core Accounts
levels relative to (Global Health, Development Assistance, International Disaster Assistance, Office
GDP, far less than of Transition Initiatives, Migration and Refugee Assistance, Emergency Refugee
our peer countries and Migration Assistance, International Operations and Programs), the Millennium
provide (per capita)
Challenge Corporation, the President’s Emergency Response for AIDS Relief
and less than the
American public (PEPFAR), and peacekeeping accounts. From an FY2008 baseline, InterAction recom-
desires and believes mends an additional $9.9 billion;
is the case. Congress • Direct the new USAID Administrator, in consultation with the National Security
appropriates Advisor, to draft and present a national development strategy for the FY2010
less than 1% of budget request process that would streamline and present in a cohesive manner
the entire U.S.
U.S. Government funding requests for all foreign development and humanitarian
budget to foreign assistance currently provided by over 26 agencies and departments responsible for
development and the delivery of U.S. development and humanitarian assistance;
humanitarian • In the congressional budget resolution and appropriations subcommittee alloca-
assistance. This tions, provide overall and subcommittee discretionary spending allowances suffi-
lack of up-front cient to allow a total increase of $9.9 billion for the development and humanitarian
investment results
accounts; and
in greater future
spending on crisis • Modernize our foreign assistance architecture to ensure maximal efficiency and ef-
response and fectiveness of these increased resources.
military operations.
1400 16th Street, NW A significant increase on the order proposed would start the investment needed
Suite 210 to seed future global economic prosperity and reduce the need for costly military
Washington, DC 20036
intervention and humanitarian action. It would begin to rebuild our store of goodwill
202-667-8227 around the world, serve our long-term national security interests, and put into action
our national values.
Historical trend: As this Congressional Research Service tional security by helping to build stable, prosperous, and
graph shows, U.S. foreign assistance (in this case including peaceful societies.” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in
some military assistance) as a percentage of GDP has de- turn, has called for, “a dramatic increase in spending on the
clined significantly over the last several decades. Data on civilian instruments of national security – diplomacy, stra-
U.S. official development assistance (a subset of foreign aid) tegic communications, foreign assistance, civic action, and
as a percentage of national income show a significant de- economic reconstruction and development…” The chart
cline from 0.54 % in 1960 to 0.16% in 2007.1 below shows the relative size and lack of balance among
U.S. Government spending levels on these three categories
in FY2008.6

Public Attitudes: Some argue that the public does not
prioritize foreign assistance. This impression may stem from
a fact repeatedly demonstrated in polls: the public thinks
our official assistance is higher than it is, with median es-
timates at around 20% of the federal budget, and median
levels preferred at around 10% of the budget. The actual
level is less than 1% of the budget.

Rationale: Some argue that the U.S. takes a leadership role
and does more than its fair share to serve the international
community. That argument misses both the practical and
moral points. Increasing stability, prosperity and goodwill in
developing as well as post-crisis states and regions around
the world makes us safer. For example, if we had worked
with the Pakistani government a decade ago to help reduce
poverty, improve governance and build a more modern ed-
ucation system, madrassas (Islamic schools, some of which
Comparison to peers: In a ranking of Official Develop- are extremist) might not have gained such influence and
ment Assistance (ODA)2 as percentage of national income Pakistan might be more stable (and might be contributing
for 20073, the U.S. ranks 23rd, behind Greece, Italy, Japan, less to the costly war we are fighting across the border in Af-
Portugal, and Italy, to name just a few of the 22 nations ghanistan). Morally, most Americans would agree that our
higher on the list. Including private flows – resources do- economic, security and cultural contributions do not, and
nated from foundations, individuals, universities, and cor- should not, diminish our duty and desire to offer a hand up
porations – still leaves the U.S. ranked 17th (OECD4) or 11th to those most in need around the world.
(Hudson Institute5) depending on data source.

The “Three D’s”: The U.S. National Security Strategies of
2002 and 2006 divided our national security apparatus into
three components: defense, diplomacy and development.
The 2006 Strategy says: “Development reinforces diplo-
macy and defense, reducing long-term threats to our na-

1 Chart source: Congressional Research Service Report 98-916, p.16. Figures:
% of GNI, OECD DAC statistics (Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development – Development Assistance Committee) http://stats.
2 ODA is the OECD’s official definition of what “counts”as foreign assistance.
3 2007 data is preliminary as of this writing.
4 OECD DAC statistics
5 Hudson Institute, The Index of Global Philanthropy 2007, p. 16, Chart 5. 6 Chart source: FY2008 appropriations bills
POLICY November 2008


InterAction Public Policy Working Group
Organization URL
Academy for Educational Development
Action Against Hunger
Action Aid
Adventist Development and Relief Agency
Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A.
Air Serv International
American Friends Service Committee
American Jewish World Service
American Red Cross
American Refugee Committee
Bread for the World
Catholic Medical Mission Board
Catholic Relief Services
Center for Health and Gender Equity, Inc
Centre for Development & Population Activities
CHF International
Child Health Foundation (CHF)
Christian Children’s Fund
Church World Service
Concern Worldwide
Congressional Hunger Center
Counterpart International
Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc
Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the
Caribbean and the Americas (FAVACA)
Food for the Hungry
Friends of the World Food Program
Global Health Council
Habitat for Humanity International
Heartland Alliance
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
Heifer International
1400 16th Street, NW
Suite 210
Washington, DC 20036 Institute for Sustainable Communities
202-667-8227 Interplast Int’l Catholic Migration Commission
Int’l Center for Research on Women
Int’l Crisis Group International Medical Corps
InterAction Public Policy Working Group (cont)

Organization URL

Int’l Orthodox Christian Charities
Int’l Reading Association
International Relief & Development
International Rescue Committee
Jesuit Refugee Services USA
Joint Aid Management
Life for Relief and Development
Lutheran World Relief
Management Sciences for Health
MAP International
Medical Teams International
Mental Disability Rights International
Mercy Corps
Minnesota International Health Volunteers
National Peace Corps Association
ONE Campaign
Opportunity International
Oxfam America
Pan American Development Foundation
Pathfinder International
Physicians for Human Rights
Plan USA
Population Action International
Project HOPE
ProLiteracy Worldwide
Refugees International
Relief International
Save the Children
The Hunger Project
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)
U.S. Committee for UNDP
U.S. Fund for UNICEF
Winrock International
Women for Women International
Women Thrive Worldwide
World Vision
World Wildlife Fund