Foreign Policy and Development Planning

Cover of the Strategic Plan  from the U.S. Dept. of State and U.S. Agency for International Development

The Department of State and the US Agency for International Development produce a joint strategic plan every 2-3 years that defines the primary goals of US foreign policy and development assistance as well as the Departmental priorities within each of the goals. The joint strategic plan also establishes regional foreign policy priorities.

Each year every mission prepares a Mission Strategic Plan (MSP) that outlines the intended goals, priority initiatives, and performance indicators with targets for the country team. The MSP covers all US government activity in a mission, since it is produced by the country team. MSPs are required to link mission programs to the Department of State's foreign policy goals and strategic objectives outlined in the joint strategic plan. The Director of Foreign Assistance works with each Mission, Bureau and Congress to negotiate funding allocations for foreign assistance programs. After agreement is reached with Congress, each Mission is provided their specific funding allocations, which the Mission then uses to develop more detailed budget plans.

Each operating unit (country, bureau, or regional program) that receives foreign assistance funds also develops an Operational Plan, a one-year tactical implementation plan for that operating unit, to ensure that all foreign assistance resources are coordinated and appropriately linked to foreign policy objectives. This plan is intended to provide a comprehensive, interagency picture of all foreign assistance resources planned for implementation in country. Country Operational Plans are approved by the Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance at the Department of State.

The Department of State also requires each bureau to develop an annual Bureau Strategic Plan that identifies a specific plan to achieve that bureau's objectives, including budget and human resource requests related to specific goals and priorities. All of the outlined plans are used as input to the State Department budgeting and assessment processes, which include OMB-directed program planning documents, such as the Performance and Accountability Report and the Program Assessment Rating Tool.