The Office of Foreign Assistance (F) provides dynamic tools and resources to assist the U.S. government in foreign assistance implementation, and for the American public to better access and understand foreign assistance.
F resources and reports include:
Each year, F works with the State Department’s Office of Budget and Planning and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to submit the Congressional Budget Justification (CBJ), which highlights funding requirements and priorities for the United States’ foreign affairs budget. Our request is a part of the total federal budget that the President submits to Congress each year. The foreign assistance request makes up less than one percent of the total federal budget.
The FARL publishes information about the strategies that guide the Department’s foreign assistance, how foreign assistance programs are developed, and how we assess the extent to which they are meeting their intended objectives.
On this site you will find information about long-term goals for State Department bureaus and missions, and information about the tools and resources used by Department officials to “manage for results.” Managing for Results is the Department’s approach to planning, budgeting, program design, performance management, evaluation, and learning.
F was proud to lead the interagency effort between the Department of State (State), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Department of Defense (DoD) to complete the Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR). Built upon past lessons learned, the SAR identifies ways in which the United States can best leverage diplomatic engagement, foreign assistance, and defense to stabilize conflict-affected areas. The SAR final report was approved by the Secretary of State, USAID Administrator, and Secretary of Defense in the spring of 2018.
Developed as a direct result of the Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR), Effective Justice & Security Sector Assistance in Conflict-Affected Areas [928 KB] provides guidelines for U.S. government assistance planning, design, and implementation in the areas of justice and security sector assistance. This document outlines principles and guidelines to shape future U.S. justice and security sector assistance in conflict-affected areas to support stabilization objectives. These principles and guidelines were developed through extensive consultation among U.S. Government and outside experts, including through a two-day symposium in May 2019 organized through the Justice Sector Training, Research, and Coordination (JUSTRAC) program. The State Department, USAID, and DoD will work to apply these guidelines in future justice and security sector assistance programming wherever appropriate.
The Strategic Prevention Project was launched in 2018 to identify how the United States and international partners can better target foreign assistance to priority fragile states to reduce the risk and severity of violent conflict. The Project’s final report, Strategic Prevention Project: Assessing the Role of Foreign Assistance in Preventing Violent Conflict [4 MB], highlights that assistance can help prevent violent conflict when it is sensitive to conflict risks, closely coordinated with diplomacy, and aligned with host-nation and local civil society reformers. However, the report concludes that most assistance to fragile states over the past decade was designed to address other development and foreign policy priorities and was not tailored in this way.
The Strategic Prevention Project is one example of how F is working to promote more strategic, coordinated, and effective U.S. foreign assistance on behalf of the American people. F led this Project, working in partnership with State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations and USAID’s Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance and Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning. F will work with experts across the State Department, USAID, and the wider U.S. government in the months ahead to translate the report into concrete foreign assistance policies and practices.
Launched December 18, 2020, the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability sets forth a framework for U.S. government efforts to prevent conflict, stabilize conflict-affected areas, and address global fragility, in line with the Global Fragility Act of 2019. This 10-year strategy emphasizes bilateral, multilateral, public-private, and civil society partnerships. It also elevates prevention and facilitates an integrated U.S. response.
The Strategy was developed through extensive consultations with stakeholders and partners, including civil society experts, non-governmental organizations, government partners, and multilateral agencies. The United States is committed to sustaining a consultative, collaborative approach throughout Strategy implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.
On September 15, 2020, the State Department transmitted to Congress the Report on the Global Fragility Act. The Report was mandated by the Global Fragility Act of 2019, and its submission is a milestone in the road to the implementation of the Act.
Launched in 2019, the urbanization project of F/P aimed to identify the opportunities and challenges that increased urbanization offers to strategic use of US foreign assistance. This report, approved in April of 2020, summarizes the findings of the literature survey conducted as a major component of that effort. Many studies show challenges associated with the rapid urbanization of developing countries, and these are often broadly understood. Less appreciated, often, are the many opportunities that urbanization offers to urban populations, national well-being, and US policy goals. With some important caveats, urbanization is broadly associated with greater health, educational attainment, economic performance, and governance. Properly investing foreign assistance funds in urban settings can further US strategic goals such as speeding the journey to self reliance and enhance the effectiveness of investments in foreign assistance.
The Department of State continues to make progress in its efforts to improve tracking and reporting of foreign assistance data through the Foreign Assistance Data Review (FADR). The FADR was chartered in September 2014 to evaluate the capture and tracking of foreign assistance activity data from budgeting, planning, and allocation through obligation and disbursement. This full report [633 KB] outlines findings and recommendations for improving the Department’s ability to track and report foreign assistance data, and approaches to enable more accurate, streamlined, and standardized foreign assistance data across Department bureaus. A FADR Data Element Index [981 KB] identifies 57 data elements that must be standardized and incorporated into the enterprise-wide data management systems.
Through the Foreign Assistance Data and Reporting Team (FA-DART), F and USAID jointly manage ForeignAssistance.gov, the U.S. government’s platform to advance the transparency, accessibility, and accountability of U.S. foreign assistance data. ForeignAssistance.gov publishes foreign assistance data from more than 20 agencies across the U.S. government, including the Department of State and USAID.
Publishing budget and financial foreign assistance data empowers the public, policymakers, journalists, academics, partner-country actors, implementers, and other stakeholders to analyze policy priorities and trends in foreign assistance, while American taxpayers can track how their money is being spent. By including data and context from different stages in the foreign assistance lifecycle, ForeignAssistance.gov helps the public to better understand the process for planning, executing, monitoring, and evaluating foreign assistance programs.
In 2017, the Department of State finalized a Program Design and Performance Management Policy that encompasses program design, monitoring, an enhanced version of the existing evaluation policy, and regular reviews of progress. The new policy [513 KB], which applies to the entire State Department, requires program/project logic models and theories of change aligned to higher level strategies, regular monitoring, evaluation, and data-driven reviews for learning and adapting. Monitoring and evaluation data and findings help managers learn what works, implement course corrections when needed, make informed budget decisions, and provide accountability for the effectiveness of programs. Evaluation reports that are not classified are required to be posted publicly.
The Standardized Program Structure and Definitions (SPSD) is F’s “dictionary,” providing a common set of definitions and a consistent way to categorize and account for State Department and USAID managed foreign assistance. This common language allows us to establish indicators for measuring performance, and to develop a comprehensive body of knowledge regarding program effectiveness. The SPSD is an interagency tool that provides a common vocabulary, and the capability to respond quickly and transparently to stakeholders.
The Program Design and Performance Management Toolkit provides the State Department with step-by-step instructions and templates for designing programs, projects, and processes that align with and advance their broader strategic goals, monitoring and evaluating progress and results, and using that information to conduct internal learning.
An interagency framework for promoting coordination among U.S. Departments and Agencies operating in the security sector to implement the principles of sound program design and performance management.
The Department of State’s complies with the Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act of 2010 (pdf) and with annually updated implementation guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) such as the Joint Strategic Plan and annual performance plans and reports, submitted to the President, the Congress, and the American public, that describe progress the Department is making toward the achievement of its long-term strategic goals. Every foreign assistance performance measure in the Performance Plan and Report are supported by a Performance Metric Reference Sheet [306 KB], a tool the Department and USAID use to define performance indicators; it is key to ensuring indicator data quality and consistency.
Additionally, the Department and USAID establish Agency Priority Goals (APGs) reflecting the top, near-term implementation-focused priorities to be achieved over the next two years. Learn more about how the Department of State and USAID manages to the federal performance framework including the APGs and other key documents that describe plans to achieve the strategic goals, objectives, performance to date, and what we plan to learn through research and evaluation at www.performance.gov
Collected via the Performance Plan and Report, these indicators enable Washington to collect standard data on important program and operational results achieved by individual missions worldwide, and can be aggregated to show overall results for foreign assistance that are used internally as well as for accountability to Congress and the public.