This article examines emerging linkages between current policies and state failure, and assesses the potential for including risk analysis and early warning in emerging "whole-of-government" approaches to the problem of state failure. The article argues that current aid policies have focused primarily on "good performers" and that the relevant tools therefore tend to be "tilted" towards the key features of these kinds of states, primarily in the macroeconomic domain and the governance sector. Only recently, with the shift towards state failure and the presumed linkage with regional and global security, have policies focused on a much broader array of factors - including organised crime and drug trafficking. These new elements, many of which are transnational in scope, are specified in the 2004 High Level Report on UN Reform and are now becoming visible in the various frameworks being developed by aid, diplomatic and defence departments. The article argues that these analytical frameworks should adopt a methodology of operational net assessment which evaluates both the intended and unintended consequences of aid impact in the fragile- or failed-state domain, as well as the various nodes of activity towards which aid is directed.