WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Defense (DOD), the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are conducting an interagency review, the first of its kind, known as the Interagency Stabilization Assistance Review.
All three agencies have a history of conducting stabilization efforts internationally, both in wartime and peacetime environments. Stabilization efforts, as defined by the U.S. government, include restoring water and electricity, ensuring access to medical care and education.
Coordination of Stabilization Efforts Between Agencies Key to Success
Stabilization efforts in foreign nations are important because they help re-establish security, strengthen governance, improve socioeconomic wellbeing and rebuild infrastructure. This is done by all three agencies separately and collaboratively. The collaboration is instrumental to successful stabilization missions, as oftentimes the DOD is needed to get USAID or the State Department into nations or cities that may still have dangerous conditions.
The initial impetus for the Interagency Stabilization Assistance Review began when there was a recognition of overlap between the three agencies. Specifically, the DOD’s role in stabilization efforts has increased in recent years, resulting in some overlap. The Government Office of Accountability stated that “[the]DOD has been conducting stabilization and reconstruction efforts that are similar to those of USAID and State; and the three agencies face challenges in project evaluation and information sharing which, if not addressed, could result in the potential for unnecessary overlap, wasted resources and a fragmented approach to U.S. assistance efforts.”
Beginning in May 2017, the Interagency Stabilization Assistance Review began, led by the Government Office of Accountability. The work of all three agencies was evaluated through case studies, literature reviews, focus groups, interviews and quantitative analysis of U.S. foreign missions. The review also includes recent lessons learned from U.S. involvement in current missions, including Syria and Iraq.
Goals of the Interagency Stabilization Assistance Review
The purpose of the Stabilization Assistance Review is to provide a comprehensive framework that identifies how the DOD, USAID and the State Department can streamline their operations and improve efficiency in diplomacy, aid and military missions. The review seeks to maximize results and use of resources by establishing clear roles and responsibilities within the organizations and outlining the boundaries of each mission as quantifiable measures, eliminating the open-ended nature that existed before.
The report was finalized in December 2017, and in February 2018, the report was signed by USAID administrator Mark Green, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, although it has not yet been released to the public.
With effective coordination between all three agencies, efforts in foreign nations will be more efficient and resources and the use of taxpayer dollars will not be wasted. The review also creates an opportunity for an ongoing dialogue, which is critical given the unpredictable nature of stabilization efforts. Further, the Interagency Stabilization Assistance Review will provide a framework for which all future stabilization efforts can be evaluated.
With overlapping duties, the review of the State Department, USAID and DOD provides a comprehensive framework to increase efficiency and success of stabilization missions in nations worldwide.
– Katherine Kirker