QDDR supports aid transparency

In the US the long-awaited Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review was published yesterday. In a major step, aid transparency has been promoted to one of the 6 key Foreign Assistance Effectiveness Principles. The role of aid transparency and technology to enhance accountability, ownership and results are key themes running through the document.  We look forward to the report’s implementation.

Key quotes relevant to aid transparency are:

Page 110: the Fifth Foreign Assistance Effectiveness principle is:

‘Transparency: State and USAID will provide timely, quality information about commit­ments, programs, and results to promote accountability and help governments, civil soci­ety and the public in the United States and abroad better understand our investments.’

Page 104/5: the section on results

‘We cannot defend our bud­get results unless we allow others to see for themselves what we are doing and how we are performing. So State and USAID will set new standards in transparency’

‘To defend our results, to hold ourselves accountable for those results, and to show both the American people and our partners that our programs deliver the results we have promised, we must allow others to see and judge our efforts. That, in turn, requires that we embrace transparency: that we further open up our books and records to allow others to see and judge for themselves. U.S. taxpayers, our development partners, and the individuals whom we seek to assist should be able to see our efforts and analyze our impact, consistent with security needs and privacy constraints.’

‘Consistent with President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, USAID will commit to a new standard of transparency by providing clear information about commitments, programs and results on a timely basis. Ten USAID Missions are already providing this data and we will increase that number. In 2009, PEPFAR released its Next Generation Indicators which report and track the full spectrum of PEPFAR work with partner countries. To ensure that data is shared consistently, USAID will prepare joint guidelines on the release of information such as country strategies, budgets, project descriptions, implementers, scheduled and actual disbursements, procurement actions, and results indicators, while protecting sensitive information about our partners.’

Page 105: More information about country pilots and the dashboard

‘Given the importance of partnership with host countries and local implementers, USAID will develop new guidance that facilitates sharing country development cooperation strategies with host governments as appropriate, including information on focus areas, expected U.S. contributions, and other key commitments. And to make our work more transparent to wider audiences, the Office of Foreign Assistance Resources at State (F) is launching a publicly accessible web-based “dashboard” that will allow all to see State and USAID foreign assistance data, including development and security assistance, and ultimately extend to include other agencies providing foreign assistance.’

Page 178: The important role in aid transparency for building public financial management

‘Helping build more robust country systems will also enable greater alignment of donor funds to identify priorities, reduce transaction costs through greater accountability and transparency, facilitate donor alignment around the coun­try’s agenda, and enhance the sustainability of results. As donors increasingly plan and disburse funds through a partner country’s institutions and systems, they are investing in the country’s long-term capacity to manage its development programs. A vibrant and strengthened civil society that monitors performance, encourages transparency, and demands results is a necessary complement to improving country systems. Therefore, we will work to increase the flow of our development dollars to trustworthy and transparent government institutions and local imple­menting partners.’

Page 198: The importance of comparability of data is recognised in the section on working smarter

‘Investing in the development or strengthening of key data sources, particularly those data sources that yield findings that are comparable across countries.’

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