U.S. Agency for International Development
J. Brian Atwood, Administrator
The U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID's) principal mission is to advance U.S. interests by:
- promoting sustainable development and addressing global problems;
- providing humanitarian relief; and
- helping countries make the transition to becoming stable, free democracies and long-term trading partners for the
Summary Budget Information
|FY 1993 (Actual) || FY 1996 (Budgeted) |
|Budget || Staff ||Budget || Staff|
|$7.942 billion || 3,928||$7.443 billion ||3,246|
When I became Administrator in 1993, the USAID was a troubled organization. A presidential commission appointed at the
behest of Congress to study the agency had reported in 1992 that USAID was "hamstrung by waste, poor communication, and
just plain bad management."
Over the years, Congress had piled on too many responsibilities and objectives for an agency with limited personnel
and resources. USAID was top-heavy with managers who put more emphasis on how much money went into assistance and how many
people were trained than it did on getting actual development results.
USAID employees are among the most motivated and committed people in the federal workforce. Many are former Peace Corps
volunteers. In the course of doing their jobs, they have braved earthquakes, floods, epidemics of terrible diseases,
coups, and civil wars. They are dedicated to helping people and accustomed to overcoming obstacles and inconveniences
as they take practical action to build a more peaceful, just, and prosperous world. Often, however, their efforts had been
frustrated by thousands and thousands of pages of regulations, and uncoordinated, antiquated communications and
The problems went beyond management and red-tape to a more fundamental concern: the world had changed suddenly and
dramatically with the collapse of the Soviet Union. USAID needed to clarify its mission and refocus its programs on the
new threats and opportunities of the post-Cold War period.
Focusing on Fewer, Obtainable Goals. I eagerly volunteered our whole agency as an experimental laboratory in Vice
President Al Gore's reinvention of government program. I promised to focus USAID on fewer, more obtainable goals and to
be accountable for measurable results.
Three years into the effort, most of the refocusing and reengineering has been done. The results have been so dramatic
that when the chairman of the commission appointed by President Bush -- which had been so critical in 1992 -- came back last
year, he declared, "This is the most remarkable transformation of a government agency I have ever seen."
We are proud of that transformation. Among other things, we have accomplished the following:
Serving Customers Better. Reengineering is not just cost cutting. We have also added new activities that enable us to
serve our customers better:
- We reorganized the agency to make it more responsive to the development challenges of today, removing unnecessary
layers of management, eliminating duplication and overlap.
- We made procurement easier and quicker. We replaced stacks of manuals with a single CD-ROM that allows both the agency
and contractors to retrieve desired information within minutes.
- We developed integrated systems for communications and management of all core business systems -- accounting,
procurement, budgeting, and personnel. USAID is now a resource for other agencies developing standards for electronic
- We reformed basic program operations to improve delivery of assistance; rewarded team performance and empowered
employees; improved coordination with other donors; and encouraged those whose lives are affected by our aid to
participate in all aspects of the process, from initial planning through execution of projects.
- We reduced the number of country programs and field missions to focus our resources better where we can achieve
sustainable development results. By the end of fiscal year (FY) 1996, we will have closed 23 of our missions. At the same
time, we have reduced our payroll 17 percent since FY 1993.
- We are closing three categories of missions: very small ones with high administrative costs, missions that do not
get results because the host country does not share our development goals or is unwilling to invest its own money, and
missions in countries that are ready to graduate from USAID programs. These last include traditional developing nations
as well as countries making the transition to democracy and free enterprise after years of communist oppression.
We are giving better service to our ultimate customers the people in developing nations and the U.S. taxpayers. These
reforms and consolidations will allow us to focus our limited financial and human resources where the agency can make a
real difference. They are essential steps to carrying out the goals of USAID:
- We launched Lessons Without Borders to share with U.S. cities and rural communities some of the lessons USAID has
learned in 30 years of development work.
- We put contract information -- and information about USAID programs -- on the Internet, which serve more than 65-million
computer users worldwide.
- We have already received awards for having one of the top Web sites in government.
To carry out these goals, USAID will support programs in four areas that are fundamental to sustainable development:
broad-based economic growth, environment, population and health, and democracy. These efforts reinforce each other.
- to help establish the conditions for democracy and free enterprise in partner countries;
- to provide humanitarian relief in situations of natural or manmade disasters in a manner that advances long-term
- to move nations to self-sufficiency in order to promote stability and create markets for U.S. goods, thereby
advancing U.S. national security interests and the U.S. economic and trade position; and
- to address global problems that could directly threaten U.S. security and national interests, such as diseases, food
supply, climate change, rapid population growth, or depletion of environmental quality or biodiversity.
I am proud of what the agency has accomplished and of the teams of USAID people who have made it possible. We are
committed to continue improving what we do and how we do it. By harnessing new technologies and listening to new ideas,
we can do an even better job of promoting the long-term interests of the United States abroad; improving the lives of
millions of individuals; and building a safer, more peaceful world for all.