The U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, requested $20 million for Cuba programs in fiscal 2012, which begins Oct. 1, 2011. The agency says its goals include managing the programs more transparently, ensuring that more economic and material support reaches the island and trying to assist a wider range of civic groups in Cuba.
An 882-page document about USAID’s foreign assistance budget includes the following summary of its Cuba program:
U.S. assistance provides humanitarian assistance to prisoners of conscience and their families, strengthens civil society by supporting civic action movements and coalitions, and promotes fundamental freedoms, namely freedom of expression.
Cuba is the only non-democratically elected government in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the most politically repressive countries in the world. In view of these challenges, U.S. assistance for Cuba aims to empower Cuban civil society to advocate for greater democratic freedoms and respect for human rights.
Economic Support Fund (ESF): The promotion of democratic principles remains the core goal of U.S. assistance, and there is an increased effort to manage programs more transparently, focus efforts on the island, and widen the scope of the civic groups receiving support. U.S. assistance aims to strengthen a range of independent elements of Cuban civil society, including associations and labor groups, marginalized groups, youth, legal associations, and women’s networks. Programs are designed to increase the capacity for community involvement of, and networking among, civil society organizations. U.S. assistance supports information sharing into and out of Cuba, as well as among civil society groups on the island, including through the use of new technology. To advance the cause of human rights in Cuba, the United States supports Cuban efforts to document human rights violations, provides humanitarian assistance to political prisoners and their families, and builds the leadership skills of a future generation of civil society leaders. The United States also supports the dissemination of information regarding market economies and economic rights.
Performance Monitoring and Evaluation: The Cuba program included several program evaluations and assessments in FY 2010. The findings significantly informed FY 2011 and FY 2012 budget and planning decisions, including the decision to support efforts most likely to have a direct impact on the island.
Conducting performance monitoring and evaluation on the Cuba program presents unique challenges. Traditional monitoring and evaluation mechanisms cannot be relied upon, given the sensitive context in which the program operates. Thus, the program works closely with implementing partners to ensure accurate and complete reporting of project activities, to identify ways to consolidate information obtained from different sources about the services delivered by grantees and contractors, and to measure outputs and program impact through alternative means.
In FY 2011, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department of State are working closely with grantees and contractors to ensure performance management is incorporated in the program design and program implementation stages. During the lifetime of programs, implementing agencies work closely with implementing organizations to ensure outputs and outcomes are measured and on target to be achieved. Additionally, USAID and the Department of State conduct internal quarterly program reviews to discuss challenges and successes and ensure programs are on track to meet goals and objectives.
Use of Performance Information to Inform Budget and Programmatic Choices: The Department of State and USAID worked jointly throughout FY 2010 to identify the most successful programming areas to date, as well as topics for future year programming most likely to achieve impact in Cuba. In particular, supporting freedom of information and enhanced communication among Cuban civil society have been identified as priority activities for current and future-year assistance funds.
Moving forward, the Cuba program will continue to include several implementing bureaus from the Department of State and USAID, which offer complementary strengths to ensure a well-managed program focused on outcome-based achievement.
Relationship Between Budget and Performance: FY 2012 resources will be used to support activities that have demonstrated greatest success and impact. In response to increasingly more vibrant and vocal pro-democracy movement on the island, U.S. assistance would be used to support nascent pro-democracy groups while enhancing information sharing opportunities through the use of technology and new media.