Major Donors: United States


Aid Transparency Analysis for United States

UPDATE: For 2013 Aid Transparency Index scores, see here.

Five U.S. government agencies and one programme were assessed both in the 2011 Pilot Index and the 2012 Index — U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of Defense (DOD), Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Department of State and Department of the Treasury. These represent some of the most significant U.S. agencies providing ODA. Profiles for each organisation are provided on the following pages.

The United States should be congratulated for Secretary Clinton’s announcement at HLF-4 that it was signing IATI.

As part of its Aid Transparency Agenda for Action, and in response to the Paris Declaration and the President’s Open Government Initiative, the U.S. launched a Foreign Assistance Dashboard in 2010 that commits to publish data in a common standard to enable global comparisons across data sets.76 However, at the time of writing it only includes aid information for three agencies (USAID, Department of State and MCC). MCC planning, obligation and spent data was added to the Dashboard in November 2011. Spent information was provided for USAID in June 2012, in addition to Congressional Budget Justification information (planning and obligation data), most of which was already public.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is currently working with relevant agencies on guidance for implementing aid transparency commitments.

Every two years, all agencies are instructed by the Open Government Directive to publish Open Government Plans, detailing specific actions and a timetable for improving their transparency. Emphasis is placed on the timely publication of open and granular data.
In May 2012, the Administration released a Digital Government Strategy — Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People — that specified the use of “industry-standard markup language (e.g. XBRL, XML)… to the extent practicable”, in order to make open data efficient, effective and accessible.

The U.S. is a founding member of OGP and served as a co-chair until April 2012. It produced its OGP National Action Plan in September 2011, which included aid transparency commitments; specifically the implementation of the Dashboard, and quarterly publication of aid information in an internationally comparable format.

The U.S. agencies and programme assessed in the 2012 Index all showed progress since last year. Controlling for methodological changes to the 2012 Index, five out of six increased their scores from 2011, while State scored consistently with their 2011 score. Based on this measure, Treasury, PEPFAR and USAID posted the 5th, 6th and 9th largest percentage point increases from 2011 out of all donors, while DOD posted 12th and MCC posted 15th. Overall, the average score for all U.S. institutions increased from 28.1% in 2011 to 39.1% in 2012, again controlling for changes in the 2012 methodology, suggesting a trend towards greater aid transparency across the U.S. government.

To fulfil its commitment to IATI, the U.S. should produce an implementation schedule by December 2012 that sets out an ambitious timetable for initial publication by leading aid agencies in 2013, with a view to full implementation by 2015.

U.S. agencies administering foreign assistance should be instructed by OMB to publish timely, comprehensive and comparable information directly to the IATI Registry via a live XML feed, which can simultaneously supply the Dashboard with more comprehensive and more timely information as well as greatly reducing the burdens of USG reporting requirements. The information published to the Dashboard should be updated quarterly.

The U.S. government should revise its OGP National Action Plan to reflect commitments made in its forthcoming IATI implementation schedule and to institutionalise IATI implementation.