International Relations and Trade Issue Area Plan--Fiscal Years 1997-99

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1997-05-01.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

               United States General Accounting Office

GAO            National Security and International
               Affairs Division

June 1997

               Relations and
               Trade Issue Area
               Fiscal Years


               As the investigative arm of the Congress and the nation’s auditor, the
               General Accounting Office is charged with following the federal dollar
               wherever it goes. Reflecting stringent standards of objectivity and
               independence, GAO’s audits, evaluations, and investigations promote a
               more efficient and cost-effective government; expose waste, fraud, abuse,
               and mismanagement in federal programs; help the Congress target budget
               reductions; assess financial information management; and alert the
               Congress to developing trends that may have significant fiscal or
               budgetary consequences. In fulfilling its responsibilities, GAO performs
               original research and uses hundreds of databases or creates its own when
               information is unavailable elsewhere.

               To ensure that GAO’s resources are directed toward the most important
               issues facing the Congress, each of GAO’s 32 issue areas develops a
               strategic plan that describes the significance of the issues it addresses, the
               objectives, and the focus of its work. Each issue area relies heavily on
               input from congressional committees, agency officials, and subject matter
               experts in developing its strategic plan.

               The International Relations and Trade issue area covers programs of the
               Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the
               U.S. Information Agency, the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency;
               international programs of the Department of Defense, the Department of
               Commerce, and the Department of Agriculture; the Export-Import Bank of
               the United States, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S
               International Trade Commission; and various related government
               organizations. The issue area is also responsible for examining U.S.
               participation in multilateral organizations, including the United Nations,
               the World Bank, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

               Our work in this issue area seeks to assess the cost and effectiveness of
               foreign affairs and international trade activities in promoting and
               protecting U.S. international interests. Our work focuses on

           •   foreign affairs structures and management of functions and resources;
           •   U.S. bilateral programs to assist and influence other countries;
           •   U.S. participation in multilateral institutions;
           •   international agreements, arrangements, and programs to promote U.S.
               security interests;
           •   programs to promote and finance U.S. overseas business interests; and
           •   trade agreements and efforts to improve U.S. access to foreign markets.

               Page 1                                                             GAO/IAP-97-6

Our key planned work on these important issues is described in the
following pages.

Our planning process allows for updating and the flexibility to respond to
emerging, significant events. If you have any questions or suggestions
about this plan, please call me at (202) 512-4128.

Benjamin F. Nelson
Director, International Relations and
  Trade Issues

Page 2                                                          GAO/IAP-97-6

Table I: Key Issues
Table II: Planned
Major Work
Table III: GAO

                      Page 3   GAO/IAP-97-6
Table I: Key Issues

Issues                                         Significance
Foreign Affairs Management:                Opportunities for restructuring, reengineering functions, eliminating nonessential
Are the functions and resources of U.S.    functions, and improving resource management need to be identified in order to ensure
agencies structured and managed to reflect that resources are available to protect vital interests.
new foreign policy priorities and fiscal

Bilateral Assistance and Influence:            Questions continue to be raised about how U.S. programs are managed, whether
Are programs achieving objectives and          long-standing programs are achieving the intended results and helping advance current
effectively advancing U.S. interests           U.S. objectives, and if alternative programs could be more effective.
overseas and are they managed efficiently?

Participation in Multilateral Institutions:    Efficient management and more effective strategies for advancing U.S. interests through
How can U.S. participation in multilateral     multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and World Bank are key congressional
institutions more effectively advance U.S.     concerns. Objective analyses are needed to guide decisionmakers who often have
interests at reasonable cost?                  differing views on U.S. participation in these institutions.
Promoting U.S. Security:                       The United States is relying more on multi-billion dollar international security
How are international agreements,              arrangements and programs to (1) counter the spread of dangerous
arrangements, and programs addressing          weapons/technologies and terrorism and (2) promote stability. Analyses are needed to
security threats and are they affordable and   answer questions on the efficacy, costs, and management of these arrangements and
efficiently managed?                           programs.

Trade Promotion and Finance:                   Fifteen U.S. agencies spend over $2.5 billion and provide over $25 billion in loans,
Are U.S. government international trade and    guarantees, and insurance to support U.S. international trade. Decisionmakers need to
finance programs and agencies efficiently      ensure that these U.S. resources are achieving the intended results and are managed
managed and effective in promoting U.S.        efficiently.
economic interests?

Trade Access and Policy:                       International trade agreements affect hundreds of billions of dollars in trade and millions
How are U.S. trade policies advancing          of U.S. jobs. Critics have expressed concerns that the United States has not been
economic interests and are trade               sufficiently aggressive in negotiating agreements and that some agreements may not
agreements increasing U.S. access to           achieve intended benefits, may adversely affect certain economic sectors, and could
foreign markets?                               compromise U.S. sovereignty. Objective analyses are needed to answer questions on
                                               how U.S. and other countries’ trade polices are affecting U.S. interests.

                                               Page 4                                                                         GAO/IAP-97-6
                                                 Table I: Key Issues

Objectives                                       Focus of Work
• Determine the compatibility of foreign         • Plans to restructure the foreign affairs agencies.
affairs agencies’ functions with new             • Agencies’ reform and reengineering efforts.
priorities, budgets, and capabilities.           • Agencies’ plans/budgets for essential functions.
• Identify ways to cut costs and improve         • Major cost drivers.
management of the foreign affairs apparatus
and individual agencies.
• Analyze justifications for funding requests.
• Identify the cost, impact, progress,           • Large, highly visible, or controversial country assistance programs and initiatives.
obstacles, and/or policy options for specific    • International drug control programs.
initiatives and programs.                        • Reauthorization of Foreign Assistance Act.
• Identify management improvements and
potential legislative and regulatory changes
aimed at cost-effectiveness.
• Assess the costs and benefits of U.S.          • U.N. costs and reforms.
participation in multilateral institutions.      • Opportunities for more effective U.S. participation.
• Assess the effectiveness of selected           • Refugee and humanitarian assistance.
institutions and programs.
• Determine costs, progress, and obstacles       • Programs to contain the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
to U.S. strategies and programs to counter       • Peacekeeping missions.
emerging security threats.                       • Bilateral and multilateral security agreements/treaties.
• Identify management improvements and           • U.S. export control regime.
cost-saving measures.                            • Major international arms transfers.
• Identify programs that are not serving
intended purposes.
• Identify ways to improve the effectiveness     • Organization of agencies (overseas and headquarters) that support U.S. international
and cut the costs of U.S. trade and finance      economic interests.
programs.                                        • Agriculture’s export programs.
• Identify ways to improve governmentwide        • Reauthorizations of Overseas Private Investment Cooperation (OPIC) and the Export-
strategic planning, budgeting, and               Import Bank (EXIM).
interagency coordination.
• Evaluate whether participation in specific     • NAFTA, Uruguay Round, and other multilateral agreements.
trade agreements advances U.S. interests.        • Bilateral trade agreements with major trading partners.
• Identify barriers to U.S. access to foreign    • U.S. efforts to reduce nontariff trade barriers.
markets.                                         • Integration of non-market economies into World Trade Organization (WTO).
• Analyze how U.S. policies and programs
impact on U.S. economic interests.

                                                 Page 5                                                                         GAO/IAP-97-6
Table II: Planned Major Work

Issue                                   Planned Major Jobs Starts
Foreign Affairs Management              • Assessment of security requirements and costs at diplomatic posts.
                                        • Analysis of efforts to develop a modern/efficient foreign affairs information systema (ongoing).
                                        • Effectiveness of cost-sharing arrangements at overseas posts.
                                        • Agencies’ progress in implementing overseas staffing models.
                                        • Opportunities to reengineer major overseas support functions (ongoing).
Bilateral Assistance and Influence      • Effectiveness of enterprise funds in assisting countries’ transition to market economies.
                                        • Options to seek economic development in sub-Saharan Africa.
                                        • Effectiveness of U.S. and international programs to combat HIV/AIDS (ongoing).
                                        • Impact of U.S. foreign aid programs.
Participation in Multilateral Institutions • Effectiveness of the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Servicesa (ongoing).
                                           • Progress of reform at the United Nations.
                                           • U.N. pay and compensation.
Promoting U.S. Security                 • Effectiveness of international nuclear controls and safeguards.
                                        • Costs to expand NATO (ongoing).
                                        • Rationale for current U.S. security assistance apparatus.
                                        • International cooperation in combatting terrorism.
                                        • China’s proliferation performance.
                                        • Management of DOD’s counterproliferation programs.
                                        • U.S. agreements and commitments in the Persian Gulf.
Trade Promotion and Finance             • Reauthorizations of EXIM and OPIC (ongoing).
                                        • Assessment of U.S. representation of overseas economic interests.
                                        • U.S. and competitors’ promotion of business interests in Asia.
                                        • Options to reduce costs of Agriculture’s export programs.
Trade Policy and Access                 • Costs/impact of NAFTA (ongoing).
                                        • Efforts to gain access to financial services markets in Asia.
                                        • Analysis of OECD investment agreement and U.S. interests.
                                        • Implications of integrating countries with state trading enterprises into WTO.
                                                 To be done in coordination with GAO’s Accounting and Information Management Division.

                                                Page 6                                                                           GAO/IAP-97-6
Table III: GAO Contacts

                      Benjamin F. Nelson       (202) 512-4128
                      Harold J. Johnson, Jr.   (202) 512-4128
Associate Directors   Jess T. Ford             (202) 512-4268
                      JayEtta Hecker           (202) 512-4128

                      John Brummet
Assistant Directors   Sharon W. Chamberlain
                      Diana M. Glod
                      Virginia C. Hughes
                      A. H. Huntington, III
                      John P. Hutton
                      Stephen W. Lord
                      Ronald A. Kushner
                      Bruce L. Kutnick
                      David R. Martin
                      Tetsuo Miyabara
                      LeRoy W. Richardson
                      F. James Shafer, Jr.
                      Elizabeth J. Sirois
                      Lawrence L. Suda
                      Celia J. Thomas
                      Phillip J. Thomas
                      Louis H. Zanardi

                      Page 7                                    GAO/IAP-97-6
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