Last week, OMB Watch, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization that seeks to increase government transparency and accountability, delivered a letter to President Obama calling for the U.S. government to publicly commit to greater transparency in U.S. foreign aid at this week’s UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
“In the ten years since that historic statement, it has become increasingly clear that money is not all that matters in development,” wrote Sean Moulton, Director of Federal Information Policy at OMB Watch. “Effective and accountable governance are also necessary, the basis of which is transparency.”
Specifically, the letter calls for the administration to:
- Publicly announce at the MDG Summit a commitment to transparency in U.S. aid and an exhortation for aid transparency globally;
- Commit to vigorously and expeditiously implement the aid transparency initiative announced in USAID’s MDGs strategy;
- Ensure the U.S. actively participates in the International Aid Transparency Initiative to ensure the standards deliver for U.S. needs;
- Explore other appropriate international efforts, such as technical assistance, to improve transparency and coordination in aid;
- Demand high standards of transparency from international aid institutions to which the U.S. contributes; and
- Encourage high standards of transparency from recipients of U.S. aid.
The letter echoes recent appeals for aid transparency from other governance and development experts, such as the London Declaration for Transparency, the Free Flow of Information and Development, adopted at an international civil society conference last month. In addition, this week Transparency International released a report calling for transparency to combat corruption, which can stymie progress toward realizing the MDGs. Recent reports from MFAN Partners Publish What You Fund and Oxfam America have focused specifically on the transparency of U.S. aid.
“To achieve the MDGs by 2015, we need to know what actions are being taken and what results are being seen,” Moulton goes on to write. “This requires donor countries, such as the United States, to provide full disclosure of aid flow and activities. It also requires recipient countries and organizations to enhance their own spending transparency.”
Read the full letter here.