Congress has considerable authority regarding interagency reform. Through its appropriations power, Congress ultimately controls reforms that require additional resources, such as personnel, facilities, and additional education and training. Congress also sets through statute the organization of the top levels of executive branch departments and agencies, conditioning the executive's ability to put in place new high-level posts and organizational units. These include positions at the NSC, and leadership positions, i.e., Assistant Secretary and above, at the civilian departments, including State, Defense, USAID, and others. Congress also has considerable influence over other personnel matters, through its power to promote civilian and military officers and fix other terms of employment. Even where the Executive branch has the authority to make changes on its own, Congress can stimulate reforms by enacting legislation that would break bureaucratic resistance, for instance, Congress can mandate new procedures and processes by requiring strategy and budget documents that deal with these matters. Congress may also encourage changes indirectly through hearings, briefings, and meetings with executive branch officials.
While contemplating the utility of specific reforms, Members may also wish to consider a number of issues. Four addressed below are: whether interagency reform is necessary; to what extent the U.S. military should be relied upon; how to prioritize proposed reforms, and will interagency reform produce budget savings?
Is Interagency Reform Necessary for Missions Abroad?
The United States' long military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq have provided much of the impetus for interagency reform efforts, but have also raised doubts about the wisdom of the interagency S&R missions. Perceptions regarding the necessity and desirability of interagency reform for missions abroad may be tied to a policymaker's assessment of the future security environment and the appropriate scope of the U.S. response. The need for overall reform, or even limited reform in certain areas, may depend on whether one judges that (1) the conflict environment and state-building demands of the past two decades will continue into the next several decades; (2) whether there are significant new types of missions that would be made more effective by improved interagency collaboration, and (3) whether one accepts or questions the utility of such engagements.
Future Conflict Environment and Missions
Initially, the perception that extensive interagency reform for missions abroad is vital to U.S. national security was fostered by the belief that weak, unstable states and post-conflict settings provide fertile breeding grounds for international terrorism. Initial proposals were grounded in the desire to bring to bear in these situations effective whole-of-government efforts to foster security, good governance and economic development, to prevent outbreaks of conflict, and to forestall reoccurrences of conflict in transitions from conflict and post-conflict settings. Some analysts soon disputed the premise that weak and failed states are per se among the most significant threats to the United States. They pointed out that terrorists find safe-haven and recruits in developed countries as well, and identified many factors--demographic, political, religious, cultural, and geographic--contributing to the spread of terrorism. An emphasis on weak and failed states, they argued, can result in fruitless interventions, pointless expenditures, and too little attention on more tangible threats and areas of greater U.S. interest. (37)
The 2010 QDR does not discount potential threats from weak states, but discussed them in terms broader than international terrorism. The changing international environment, it judged, "will continue to put pressure on the modern state system, likely increasing the frequency and severity of the challenges associated with chronically fragile states ... [which] are often catalysts for the growth of radicalism and extremism.... Over the course of the next several decades, conflicts are at least as likely to result from state weakness as from state strength." It points out some fragile states "are nuclear-armed or are critically important to enduring American interests."
This document argues for the integration of defense, diplomacy, and development (the so-called "3D") tools to prevent the rise of threats to U.S. interests and to meet the challenges of "a complex and uncertain security landscape in which the pace of change continues to accelerate." (38) It points to counterterrorism, building the capacity of foreign security …