The Department of State and the Department of Defense have signed a Memorandum of Agreement to transfer $40 million in DoD funds to the State Department’s Global Engagement Center for initiatives countering propaganda and disinformation from foreign nations.
“This funding is critical to ensuring that we continue an aggressive response to malign influence and disinformation and that we can leverage deeper partnerships with our allies, Silicon Valley and other partners in this fight,” said Steve Goldstein, under secretary of State for public diplomacy and public affairs, in a news release on the partnership. “It is not merely a defensive posture that we should take; we also need to be on the offensive.”
An initial $5 million of the money will go to the creation of an Information Access Fund to support “public and private partners working to expose and counter propaganda and disinformation from foreign nations.”
The fund will issue grants to civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies and academic institutions that work to combat foreign-based disinformation campaigns.
In addition, $1 million in initial seed money from the State Department’s public diplomacy account will be used to initiate the program.
The announcement comes as government officials have warned about the dangers of foreign adversaries seeking to influence the 2018 midterm elections, potentially more aggressively than foreign involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
The partnership will also include a series of pilot projects, developed in coordination with the DoD and using Defense funding, to counter foreign disinformation campaigns, according to the news release.