The federal budget process is widely regarded as a complex, time-consuming, and arcane set of activities often suffused with controversy, frustration, and delay. These characteristics of the process are attributable to various factors, including the vast scope and complexity of federal activities and the numerous types of financial transactions needed to fund them, the profusion of participants in the budget process and the wide dispersal of budgetary power, and the far-reaching economic and political consequences of budgetary decision-making.
Once we have a budget though, at least in the State Department, we go into hoard mode. We try to husband the money in case we really need it, so most funding requests are weighed, judged and grudgingly approved. Maybe. The net result is that around August there is a call to blow the wad that is left. Most of the time the things that are purchased are actually needed- but not always. Some funds have been earmarked for specific purposes and cannot be used for anything else- like travel money. This gets me to my point (finally)- for the next few days I'll be out on a "familiarization tour" with some other new arrivals. This is a good use of taxpayer money, trust me. Okay, so maybe there is a small element of boondoggle, but I'll be out there showing the flag and spreading the word.
While I am gone I'd love to have you all leave your suggestions (in the comment section please)as to what we should focus our foreign policy budget on for the next year. Iraq? Democracy in general? Iran and Lebanon? Latin America? Cut the whole thing in half and give it to New Orleans?
What do you say?
I'll be back over the weekend. Looking forward to your ideas- don't hold back.
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