Portfolio Assessment of Department of State Internet Freedom Program

An Annotated Briefing

by Ryan Henry, Stacie L. Pettyjohn, Erin York

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RAND researchers conducted an assessment of the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, Labor (DRL) Internet freedom portfolio for Fiscal Year 2012-13. Applying an analytical methodology employing both multi-attribute utility analysis and portfolio analysis techniques, the assessment showed good alignment between State's strategy and the cumulative effect of the eighteen funded projects. Additionally, the portfolio was assessed to be well balanced with an unrealized potential for supporting emergent State Department needs in enlarging political space within authoritarian regimes. They found that the investment in developing Internet freedom capacity and capabilities would likely have residual value beyond the portfolio's funded lifespan, with positive, but indirect, connections to civic freedom. Moreover, promoting Internet freedom appears to be a cost-imposing strategy that simultaneously aligns well with both U.S. values and interests, pressuring authoritarian rivals to either accept a free and open Internet or devote additional security resources to control or repress Internet activities. Finally, it was assessed that the value of such analysis is best realized over multiple stages of the portfolio's lifecycle.

This research was conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD). NSRD conducts research and analysis on defense and national security topics for the U.S. and allied defense, foreign policy, homeland security, and intelligence communities and foundations and other nongovernmental organizations that support defense and national security analysis.

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