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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF): Summary and Issue Overview

Nina M. Serafino
Specialist in International Security Affairs

The new Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF), established by Congress in December 2011, responds to long-standing congressional concerns that the U.S. government needs to address multiple deficiencies that have undermined interagency efforts abroad, in particular efforts to meet emergent challenges.

Created as a four-year pilot project by the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 112- 81), Section 1207, the GSCF is jointly administered and funded by the Department of State and the Department of Defense (DOD).

The GSCF provides resources for training and other support to enable foreign military and security forces to conduct security and counterterrorism operations and participate in coalition operations, as well as for justice sector, rule of law, and stabilization programs. The GSCF is placed under the State Department budget. Although decisions are to be jointly made by the Secretaries of State and Defense, the mandated mechanism puts the Secretary of State in the lead. (The legislation also includes three one-year transitional authorities for counterterrorism and peacekeeping assistance to Africa and Yemen, for which the Secretary of Defense has the lead.)

The GSCF is seen as an important step in improving U.S. efforts to deal with crises and emergent threats and to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. It incorporates features of previous legislation and reflects recommendations to improve current national security structures and practices. Many hope that it will provide a model for interagency cooperation on security assistance that will overcome the disadvantages of the current system of agency-centric budgets and efforts.

The FY2012 omnibus appropriations act (P.L. 112-74) does not appropriate new monies to the fund for regular budget programs, but permits DOD and the State Department to transfer up to $250 million to the GSCF from other accounts, with a limit of $200 million from DOD and $50 million from State from specified accounts. (P.L. 112-74 specifies that these transfer authorities are in addition to any other transfer authorities available to these departments.) The FY2012 NDAA authorizes a higher limit for FY2012 of $350 million. (This authorized amount includes both GSCF funding and up to $150 million in funding for the one-year transitional authorities.) For FY2013 and future years, the FY2012 NDAA sets a limit of $300 million. The FY2012 NDAA also provides that the State Department contribution shall not be less than 20% of the total amount required for a specific activity, and the DOD contribution not more than 80%.

In its February 2012 FY2013 budget submission, the State Department requested a $25 million GSCF appropriation, and $50 million in transfer authority. DOD did not request an appropriation or any new transfer authority.

Issues that Congress may choose to consider include the State Department’s ability and capacity to lead GSCF activities; possible funding and flexibility drawbacks for DOD; the desirability of providing DOD with authority to train non-military security forces, including law enforcement; and the potential effectiveness of GSCF programs in the absence of a strategy for security assistance. In the context of FY2013 appropriations action, Congress may consider whether to provide a specific GSCF appropriation. The Senate version of the FY2013 Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Appropriations Act (S. 3241) would appropriate $25 million to the GSCF.

Date of Report: August 1, 2012
Number of Pages: 15
Order Number: R42641
Price: $29.95

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