To spend aid resources effectively, the importance of knowing where they’re going and regularly monitoring and evaluating what they’re doing cannot be overstated. Being more transparent and requiring rigorous evaluation of foreign aid are common sense ways to increase the accountability and impact of our resources.
Recently, Senators Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin and Representatives Ted Poe and Gerry Connolly came together to introduce a bill to strengthen U.S. foreign assistance so that we can better track aid spending and results. Plan also welcomes the co-sponsorship of this bill by Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island. The bipartisan, bicameral Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act would require the president to establish uniform evaluation guidelines, and the secretary of state to ensure foreign aid spending information be made publicly available and regularly updated on the existing ForeignAssistance.gov website.
Some of this work is already underway. The Millennium Challenge Corporation is ranked one of the most transparent aid agencies in the world by Publish What You Fund; 10 of the 22 U.S. agencies that deliver foreign assistance are reporting spending data to ForeignAssistance.gov (albeit, often incomplete spending data); and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department have both established reasonably rigorous evaluation policies. This bill would reinforce these positive steps taken by the past two administrations to improve the accountability of foreign assistance and further strengthen efforts to make aid more transparent and results-driven.
Efforts to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of our aid, like this legislation, cannot be put on the backburner. By being transparent about where aid is going and for what purpose, we can better identify gaps and respond to needs quickly. Without having comprehensive and timely data that is publicly available, the ability to respond and collaborate with our partners and other donors is inhibited. Enacting this legislation would be the needed push for all U.S. agencies involved in providing assistance to further progress and institutionalize these principles of accountability.
Plan is hopeful that with long-standing bipartisan support for this effort, we can keep up the momentum and finally see this sensible legislation signed into law.