THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Here are eight recommendations to rationalize U.S. foreign assistance
and, thus, greatly increase its effectiveness.
BY THOMAS C . ADAMS
Time to Sharpen a Vital Diplomatic Tool
Thomas C. Adams is a retired Senior State Department
official who spent more than 40 years in government
service, including 11 years in the Foreign Service with
assignments to Zanzibar, Brussels and Budapest before
converting to Civil Service. During most of his government service,
he was engaged in managing foreign assistance. As a member of the
Senior Executive Service, he served as coordinator of assistance to
Europe and Eurasia, and as Haiti special coordinator.
hen the U.S. Agency for
ment was established
in 1961 during the
tion, the idea was to
create a skilled and
muscular foreign aid
agency out of an exist-
ing apparatus that had become bureaucratically fragmented
and not particularly effective. Evidence of the importance that
Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson assigned to
NOTES TO THE NEW ADMINISTRATION
this effort can be seen in their selection of USAID’s second
Administrator, David Bell, who left his job as director of the
Bureau of the Budget for what he considered a far more impor-
tant position: USAID Administrator.
In the last three decades, however, we have returned to a
highly fragmented system of foreign assistance, with some
20 agencies managing what are in many cases overlapping
programs. The next administration has a good opportunity to
rationalize the way the United States administers its foreign
assistance and, thus, greatly increase its effectiveness.
Every president wants to have a strong foreign policy.
Though many in Congress seem utterly hostile to foreign aid,
the reality is that behind closed doors there is broad bipartisan
support for foreign assistance as a key element of advanc-
ing U.S. foreign policy goals. And with the American people
increasingly wary of large-scale military intervention, there is
a desire to use diplomatic tools over military ones.
As these leaders recognize—fallacious or under-informed
critiques of “nation-building” notwithstanding—U.S. foreign
aid programs that build effective governments, reduce ram-
pant disease, offer education and hope for the future, increase