During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to "fully fund the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization and create a new Office of Conflict Prevention and Resolution.”
The department on Nov. 22, 2011, launched the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations to take over the portfolio previously handled by the Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization. Aiming to build "smarter, more effective U.S. engagement with the world,” the new office is focused on such areas as conflict prevention, crisis response, and stabilization activities.
Through offices in 20 "priority countries” -- ranging from Honduras to South Sudan to Burma -- the bureau attempts to break cycles of violence, strengthen civilian security, and mitigate crisis. It seeks to "encourage greater involvement of local civil society – including women, youth, and the media – to prevent and respond to conflict.”
The bureau also relies on the Civilian Response Corps -- a group of civilian federal employees from nine departments "who are specially trained and equipped to deploy rapidly to provide conflict prevention and stabilization assistance to countries in crisis or emerging from conflict.” Participants have backgrounds in public health, law enforcement, engineering, economics and law. (We rated a separate promise on this effort here.)
So the administration has reorganized and placed increased emphasis on the areas addressed by this promise. But what about funding?
Calculating the answer is difficult because the organizational change makes it hard to compare the before-and-after budget picture for more than one fiscal year. In the State Department's budget documents, it says that "conflict stabilization operations” was funded at $35 million in fiscal year 2011 and at $30 million in fiscal year 2012. For fiscal year 2013, the administration requested a big increase, to more than $56 million.
The program's medium-term fiscal outlook is unclear, but comparing fiscal year 2012 to fiscal year 2011, it's hard to say that the program was "fully funded” when it suffered a $5 million cut. On the other hand, the administration's organizational relaunch and its large request for 2013 have demonstrated an interest in the program. On balance, we rate this promise a Compromise.