Washington - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee in charge of foreign assistance today announced the release of a Government Accountability Office report on the foreign assistance reform process, for which he was a lead requester. The report outlines some successes and shortcomings in the process undertaken by the State Department's Office of Foreign Assistance (known as State/F).

Among the success, the GAO cited:

• Positive developments in the organizational transformation
• A streamlined process for budgeting and planning
• Creating a workforce integrated with USAID and State personnel

Among the shortcomings, the GAO cited:

• A lack of time frames goals and benchmarks
• An unclear communication strategy
• Remaining challenges in yearly and long-term planning strategies, the budget process and workforce management

Senator Menendez said: "There's no question that the foreign assistance system is badly in need of reform. When I look at USAID, I see a decimated agency that needs to be rebuilt from the inside out, by strategically building-up the staff and increasing accountability to ensure results. The good news is that we have change at the very top -- the Obama administration clearly understands the necessity of effective and efficient foreign assistance, not just for humanitarian reasons, but also for our national security and economic well-being. I plan to work together with the administration to implement a bold and long-lasting reshaping of the foreign assistance system."

Link to GAO report: http://menendez.senate.gov/pdf/04232009GAOForeignAidReform.pdf

Link to report on official GAO site (will not be available until the afternoon of April 23, 2009): http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d09192.pdf