Last week, budget and appropriations information from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) was added to the Foreign Assistance Dashboard. This is a positive step toward the expansion of this user-friendly tool that allows for policymakers and the American public to track and analyze investments in foreign assistance while holding the Administration accountable for returns on these investments. Still, as Will McKitterick of the Center for Global Development points out in a new blog post, the MCC data was already available on the agency’s website. McKitterick writes:
“Based on what it sets out to provide, the website is an impressively ambitious tool, and the government should be applauded for moving quickly to get in line with international standards on aid transparency (see IATI). Nevertheless, the tool is only as useful as the information it stores, and currently, it stores very little. Sure it includes both State and USAID foreign assistance request and appropriations data, but this information was made available at the original release of the Dashboard nearly a year ago, and both agencies have yet to publish data for obligations and spent resources. The recent release of MCC information is certainly a plus, but since that information was already readily available on the MCC’s website, it hardly counts as progress.”
The “What’s Coming” section on the Dashboard, complete with a matrix (below), shows the slow progress that has been made in updating and expanding the content since the Dashboard launched in December 2010. Yet with momentum for transparency through the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and this week’s High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, as well as the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act from Rep. Ted Poe, there is a great opportunity for the government to fulfill this critical element of reform.