USAID Operating Expenses

FY2016 Funding Recommendation:  
$1.5 billion


Funding History


       President's FY2016 Request   

       InterAction's FY2016 Recommendation


 Key Facts

  • USAID operating expenses help ensure U.S. taxpayer dollars are spent transparently, efficiently and properly.

  • The Development Leadership Initiative, initiated by former President George W. Bush, has allowed USAID to regain key capabilities by hiring more staff to oversee foreign aid projects.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) operating expenses help the agency meet the needs of the world’s most vulnerable populations in a manner ensuring the greatest maximum benefit for our nation’s investment.

U.S. foreign policy objectives – both short- and long-term – require USAID engagement around the world. Cuts to the USAID operating budget do not reduce those requirements; they stretch the agency ever thinner, leading to reduced efficiency, effectiveness, and oversight. After years of counterproductive cuts in staffing, the Development Leadership Initiative, initiated by the Bush administration and continued by the Obama administration, has allowed USAID to hire additional staff. These staffing increases have given USAID the capacity to implement programs and capitalize on technological innovations that foster solutions to complex development problems.

Staffing levels must be sustained for USAID to carry out humanitarian and development assistance programs effectively, and to have the technical capacity to assess what is working and what is not. They are also needed to uphold USAID’s part of the three-legged national security stool: defense, diplomacy, and development. Full operational funding for USAID also supports USAID Forward, a package of reforms designed to strengthen, streamline, and optimize the way USAID does business. The U.S. Global Development Lab is a USAID Forward program that began in 2014. This new program, partly supported by operating expenses, seeks to solve development challenges by increasing the application of science, technology, innovation, and cross sector partnerships.

Fully funding USAID’s Capital Investment Fund enables USAID to modernize and improve information technology (IT) systems. Importantly, this fund also allows USAID to work with the State Department to construct facilities that will keep safe our civilian representatives serving their country abroad.

As USAID strives to increase accountability, transparency, and efficiency, up-to-date information management systems are vital. This funding will support continued modernization of such systems, as well as consolidation of USAID and State Department IT platforms as prescribed by the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR).

Success Story:

Making USAID more effective and accountable

Given tight budget constraints, USAID has recently focused on better policy planning, program design, and monitoring and evaluation to increase its effectiveness in delivering aid. While still a work in progress, a signature effort of the agency entitled USAID Forward has already led to several key improvements.

USAID Forward brings a focus on results-based outcomes by: 

  • better aligning resources with the priorities of local civil society organizations and partner countries;
  • promoting sustainable development through building local capacity; and
  • identifying new innovations that can be scaled up to achieve better results.

Notable progress includes the completion of 186 high-quality evaluations designed to translate lessons from the field into new program designs, which will increase efficiency and effectiveness. In addition, USAID used its strategic planning process to reprioritize program focus, phasing out 38 food security and global health programs too small to have a meaningful impact.

Under USAID Forward, the agency has doubled the amount of mission funding invested in local governments, increasing countries’ capacities to lead their own development. At the same time, the agency carries out risk assessments of governments to protect against potential corruption in the aid process. 

The USAID Forward initiative has made this progress possible. It is an investment that clearly pays off, for our government, American taxpayers and our international development partners around the globe. 

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