US Bill to increase transparency of foreign assistance

Yesterday, 13 October, Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) and 30 co-sponsors from both parties introduced The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 3159) to ensure U.S. foreign assistance is more transparent, accountable and effective.

In a statement of support Rev. David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World, said “Even if we only allocate less that 1 percent of the federal budget to foreign aid, we have to made sure we use these dollars effectively to enable poor people in developing countries to lift themselves from hunger and poverty.”

The bill states that the “President shall establish and maintain an Internet website to make publicly available comprehensive, timely, comparable, and accessible information on United States foreign assistance programs.”

The Foreign Assistance Dashboard, created in response to the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and President Obama’s Open Government Initiative, aims to include  all USG agencies receiving or implementing foreign assistance, humanitarian, and/or development funds so that taxpayers can see where their money is going and the impact it is having.

This bill does mark a step in the right direction, but we hope to see a reference to the international standard in report language or in an amended version. Whilst the domestic coordination and transparency of US aid activity is a positive development, the true value of aid transparency cannot be realised without US information being comparable to that of other donors.

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