International Affairs Budget:

Framework for Assessing Relevance, Priority, and Efficiency

T-NSIAD-98-18: Published: Oct 30, 1997. Publicly Released: Oct 30, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the programs and activities funded by the international affairs budget, the function 150 account of the federal budget, focusing on the issues that should be raised in assessing the current programs and activities on the books that support U.S. foreign policy and economic objectives.

GAO noted that: (1) funding in the 150 account, which totalled $18.1 billion in fiscal year 1997, constitutes only 1 percent of the federal budget and just 3 to 4 percent of discretionary funding; (2) these expenditures fund activities that are designed to influence world political and economic agendas; (3) to support its interest in such agendas, the U.S. government maintains a worldwide infrastructure of embassies, missions, consulates, and trade offices, with an overseas staff of more than 35,000; (4) the 150 account funds a wide range of programs and activities; (5) a large percentage of the funds in the account is directed by Congress or the President for specific countries and purposes; (6) to facilitate the examination of 150 account funding, GAO grouped the various programs and activities into six categories: (a) security and peacekeeping operations; (b) bilateral assistance; (c) foreign affairs management; (d) public diplomacy; (e) multilateral assistance; and (f) trade and investment; and (7) GAO presented information on the funding levels and trends for activities in each of the six categories and also discussed the particular set of issues and questions that could be raised with respect to relevance, priority, and efficiency.

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