Despite progress, U.S. continues to fail aid transparency commitments

Washington, DC – Lack of aid transparency by main U.S. government agencies is hindering development outcomes in some of the poorest countries in the world, says Publish What You Fund’s latest report. The U.S. is the world’s largest single provider of foreign assistance, giving $27bn of critical development assistance in 2013 alone. Yet four out of six key U.S. government donors are still not publishing their data on time and in detail, leaving recipient countries in the dark about expected funding. Poor quality aid information impacts recipient countries because they are unable to plan their budgets effectively and allocate resources to where they are needed.

The 2015 U.S. Aid Transparency Review assesses whether six U.S. donors are on or off track to meet the promise they made to publish their aid information by December 2015. It finds that USAID has made the largest progress since 2014, moving from being off to on track. MCC continues its sustained leadership on transparency by scoring in the top performance category, while PEPFAR has also moved up a performance category. However, PEPFAR, along with State, Treasury and Defense, is still off track and will not meet the commitment the U.S. has made to the global community, unless they redouble their efforts immediately.

The Review analyzes ten of the most aid dependent, low-income countries that receive high quantities of U.S. and European Union aid. Astonishingly, in 2013, none of the U.S. aid to Myanmar, DRC and Cote d’Ivoire was visible. On average, only 38% of official U.S. development flows in those ten countries was published to the international open data standard – the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). This amounts to $2.8bn that ten recipient countries alone could not see.

Rupert Simons, CEO, Publish What You Fund said:

“Information is power and by sharing information, we are asking donors to share the power with partner countries and citizens. The Addis Financing for Development conference is just around the corner and the decisions made there have huge potential for development progress. Using accurate and timely data to track these new commitments puts the power into people’s hands to hold donors to account and make sure aid money is spent in the most effective way. This is why we are calling on all U.S. agencies to publish what they fund.”

Raymond Offenheiser, President, Oxfam America said:

“Aid works when it is a tool in the hands of the local leaders who are bringing positive change to their communities. If local farmers and entrepreneurs in developing countries know more about where aid is directed and for what purpose, they can make complementary investments to leverage these dollars. Transparency ensures that aid is being used for maximum effect, and that citizens can hold their governments accountable for results.”

George M Ingram, co-Chair, Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) said:

“It is not just partner countries who benefit from good quality data. There is a strong business case for the agencies to use their own data internally.  Not only is it a valuable management tool, but we know that data that is used internally leads to improved outcomes for everyone. The U.S. should be one of the biggest consumers of its own data. That alone would make the investment in IATI worth it.”

ENDS

Contact:           Katie Welford, Communications Officer, Publish What You Fund – katie.welford@publishwhatyoufund.org 

Notes:

  1. By visible we mean aid that is published to IATI and therefore can be seen publicly. Currently, donors publish some of their aid but not enough. We believe over 80% of aid needs to be visible for it to be useful.
  2. The 2015 U.S. Aid Transparency Review can be downloaded from roadto2015.org/us-review from 06.00 EST on 1st July. Rupert Simons, CEO, Publish What You Fund, is available for comment. Please contact Catalina Reyes, Senior Advocacy Associate.
  3. The Road to 2015 campaign is a civil society coalition, led by Publish What You Fund, pushing donors to deliver their transparency commitments made in Busan in 2011.
  4. Publish What You Fund is the global campaign for aid transparency, advocating for a significant increase in the availability and accessibility of comprehensive, timely and comparable aid information. The organisation monitors the transparency of aid donors in order to track progress, encourage further transparency and hold them to account. The annual Aid Transparency Index and 2015 Aid Transparency Review methodology is the only global measure of aid transparency.
  5. At the Busan High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in 2011, the world’s largest aid providers committed to publishing their data to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) by December 2015. IATI is the only global common standard for publishing aid information that ensures data is timely, comprehensive, comparable & accessible.

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