Dr. Raj Shah has officially left the building. USAID’s headquarters in the Ronald Reagan building that is. He has a long list of accomplishments to take with him.
CGD Policy Blogs
With Raj Shah stepping down as USAID Administrator last week, many are taking stock of the numerous accomplishments during his five-year tenure at USAID. One of the unsung achievements of his term was announcing and implementing USAID’s Evaluation Policy.
Publish What You Fund launched their fourth annual Aid Transparency Index (ATI) today. The overall finding is that while many donors have made a number of international aid transparency commitments, the majority are falling short and not publishing useful information.
We’re getting closer to knowing how the USG spends its foreign assistance dollars. Recently, the State Department announced its first release of foreign assistance data on the ForeignAssistance.gov website (also known as “The Dashboard”).
January 12, 2014 marks the fourth anniversary of the massive quake in Haiti that left over 200,000 people dead and several million people homeless. The response from rich countries was overwhelming—over $9 billion was disbursed towards relief and reconstruction efforts ($3 billion from the United States, an estimated $3 billion in private contributions, and another $3 billion from foreign governments).
There is a growing paradox on the US aid transparency front. The US government is simultaneously home to the world’s most open and most opaque development agencies. And the chasm between them has grown wider over the last year. That’s our main takeaway from Publish What You Fund’s (PWYF) latest Aid Transparency Index rankings of 67 major donor organizations.
Knowing how governments spend their assistance dollars, euros, and yen is a key contribution to broader aid effectiveness. But, it only paints part of the picture. There’s a complex (and very large) world of private and NGO implementers that actually deliver those monies on the ground whose information should be actively tracked and accounted for. For partner governments, information on aid project execution is just as valuable (if not more) than knowing where funds are being allocated.
The FY14 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill passed out of the House Appropriations Committee last week is a stinging reminder of the low esteem in which many members of Congress hold global development and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the primary federal agency charged with delivering US foreign assistance worldwide.
US aid agencies are on an open data roll this month. On Monday, we applauded Treasury’s release of technical assistance program data in Excel and International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) formats. Yesterday, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) released more than 53,000 FY2013 financial transaction records on the US Foreign Assistance Dashboard, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) posted much of its open data catalog information in the IATI format on its website, too. All three agencies will likely see steady or higher marks in the 2013 Aid Transparency Index that comes out in October (but finished collecting data yesterday). Regardless, we're giving a huge “hooray” for the major boost in amount and detail of publicly-available US aid data and hope it spurs interesting analysis and ideas to better communicate and inform development policymaking and practice.