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Tracking a Few of My Favorite Things: US Foreign Assistance Dashboard Data

Raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, data on the US Foreign Assistance Dashboard? Yes, the one-stop-shop for US foreign assistance budget data is on my list of favorite aid things, and our Rethinking US Foreign Assistance team has a new US Foreign Assistance Dashboard Tracker (link) to encourage each of the twenty-some different US government agencies and departments to report their data, and applaud them when they do.  

Foreign Assistance Dashboard Tweaks and New Data

If you haven’t looked at the Foreign Assistance Dashboard lately, I’d suggest you do so. The government’s online platform and (eventual) one-stop-shop for storing and visualizing US aid data has some new features. There are new displays of existing data, plus the first set of USAID and MCC quarterly financial data. These tweaks and more timely data are a step in the right direction, but more US federal agencies need to leap onboard and start adding their data to the mix.

Poe Transparency & Accountability Bill: Will it Pass?

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.

Forget Waiting: Three Foreign Aid Tasks for Three Months

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.

Inspector General Gives USAID Failing Grade in Haiti

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:

Slow and Steady Dashboard Progress, but How to Win the Race?

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).

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