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CSIS: Earmarks and Directives in the Foreign Operations Appropriation
March 30, 2021
5:54 pm
Tish Butler
Forum Posts: 65
Member Since:
April 22, 2016
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CSIS | Center for Strategic & International Studies: Earmarks and Directives in the Foreign Operations Appropriation
by Daniel Runde, Michael Casella, and Rodney Bent
March 2021

Primarily authored by Michael Casella and Rodney Bent, the CSIS Project on Prosperity and Development (PPD) would like to share a new paper, Earmarks and Directives in the Foreign Operations Appropriation (

While not actual “earmarks,” both hard and soft directives clearly have a significant impact on the U.S. government’s ability to program, implement, and evaluate foreign assistance. There are as many reasons for the application of these directives as there are sectors where they are applied; however, the outcomes from directives play out the same across sectors. Moving forward, policymakers must mediate this impact and look for opportunities to promote reform.
The past three decades have seen a significant increase in earmarks and directives in the foreign assistance portion of the annual State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bills and Act (the 150 account). While this proliferation of directives might appear at first glance to be a non-issue to non-budgeteers, it has had a real impact on the ability of the executive branch to use foreign assistance to address critical foreign policy and development requirements. Practically, this includes:
• Constraints on the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to quickly reallocate development funding to address new threats and unforeseen opportunities;
• Reduced availability of development funding for non-directed sectors and programs, most notably democracy and governance and non-agriculture economic growth; and
• Limitations on the ability of the State Department and USAID to develop and implement long-term country-specific strategic plans.
For more on this topic, you can read the full report here (

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