If you haven’t read the National Defense Authorization of Act for Fiscal Year 2010 that came out of conference this week – and I’m guessing you haven’t – then you may have missed a potential precedent.
The Armed Services Committees of the House and Senate this week authorized $55 million for the State Department for what amounts to information operations (or call it public diplomacy, strategic communication, or global engagement). This is not so-called “1207” funding that allows Defense to transfer money to State for security and stabilization – there is another $100m (or more) of security and stabilization money the SASC/HASC direct DOD to transfer to State – nor is it, for the wonk in you, “1206” or “1208” funding. This is a direct authorization for State (and BBG if you prefer to separate them out) for specific activities.
The appearance of these authorizations in the Senate bill back in July took many by surprise. This could create questions over accountability of funds and confusion over guidance by adding more cooks who generally do not confer much and speak different language in this kitchen.
The big question is whether the authorities will be funded. This is unlikely considering neither the House or Senate defense appropriators have included this in their pre-conference bills. However, the Armed Services Committees created an opportunity for the defense appropriators to send a significant message. Whether the appropriators take that opportunity is to be seen.