Policy Sciences

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 81-105

First online:

Agency reform as decision process: The reengineering of the Agency for International Development

  • Matthew R. AuerAffiliated withSchool of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University


The Agency for International Development (AID), the U.S. Government's principal dispenser of foreign economic assistance, is struggling to define its mission in the post Cold War era. AID staff and overseas presence has contracted in recent years following 'reinvention' reforms. But reinvention has not clarified the agency's mission nor protected it from powerful critics. AID's future depends on its ability to develop a mission that excites popular demand. Agency reformers promote foreign aid as a means to advance sustainable development in developing countries. But AID's sustainable development mission lacks credibility because it excludes references to reforms required in post-industrial societies. Participation of U.S. local interests in aid management and more effective promotion of familiar premises for aid (many of them consistent with the tenets of sustainable development) are essential elements of a revitalized foreign aid program.