The House was expected to vote on the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 3159) this week but didn't quite get to it before concluding business. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), requires standard monitoring and evaluation across all US foreign aid agencies and would make the Foreign Assistance Dashboard a lasting—and required—tool to track US aid spending.
CGD Policy Blogs
The State Department and USAID get a gold star this week for publishing a detailed plan for reporting all US government aid data to the Foreign Assistance Dashboard and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) by the end of 2015.
President Barack Obama's re-election gives him four more years to carry out his US global development policy vision. While no one expects the lame duck session to produce mighty development policy, my colleagues and I have a few ideas explained in short videos that could help President Obama and his development team get a running start on his second term.
On September 26, the Office of the Inspector General for USAID issued a blistering evaluation of USAID's activities in Haiti. The report focuses on implementation of the Haiti Recovery Initiative (HRI) which supports short- and medium-term reconstruction projects. Overall, the audit states that the work is “not on track” and identifies areas for improvement including: monitoring and evaluation, community involvement, technical assistance, and the need for environmental reviews. These are some of the themes that we also highlighted in our CGD Policy Paper entitled "Haiti: Where Has All the Money Gone?" We proposed three solutions to improving the use of taxpayer dollars in Haiti:
Britain's National Audit Office (NAO), akin to the US Government Accountability Office or GAO, is applauding the Department for International Development's Multilateral Aid Review.
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department have added FY2009-FY2011 budget data to the Foreign Assistance Dashboard. The dashboard aims to capture all US foreign aid spending from across twenty-some different US agencies. There's a long way to go before all the information is included, but the dashboard--and the latest updates from State and USAID plus previous contributions from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)--are important steps in the right direction. Can Congress or crowdsourcing help get to the finish line? The dashboard is designed to include all US foreign assistance data and break it down by country, sector, initiative and agency in a user-friendly format. While it's always a bit of a shock to realize this information doesn't already exist, the Foreign Assistance Dashboard is a welcome tool to improve foreign aid transparency. And the Obama administration deserves applause for getting the tool out there early, even if it's not yet complete (and hats off to the unsung heros who designed the website and entered the data).
The January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, killed over 220,000 people, displaced several million, and flattened much of the capital, Port Au Prince, also unleashed a tsunami of outside assistance. In the 28 months since the earthquake official donors have disbursed almost $6 billion in aid to help the people of Haiti, the equivalent of $600 per person for a country where per capita annual income is just $670. Where has all the money gone? On the second anniversary of the quake we set out to answer this question; our new CGD policy paper is the result. The short answer is that the vast majority of the money so-far disbursed has been paid to international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private contractors. And while many of these organizations do excellent work, there is shockingly little information on how they used the funds.