As part of an effort to reform our outdated foreign assistance system, the Obama Administration has taken steps to make U.S. aid more transparent, including by launching the Foreign Assistance Dashboard and signing on to the International Aid Transparency Initiative. Congress has also jumped on the bandwagon, with Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Howard Berman (D-CA) of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs having introduced the bipartisan Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 late last year.
The U.S. is the largest global donor of foreign aid, yet several U.S. government agencies—with the exception of the Millennium Challenge Corporation—rank poorly among international donors according to MFAN partner Publish What You Fund’s first annual Aid Transparency Index 2011.
To get a better sense of how the Obama Administration is implementing measures to be more transparent, MFAN sent questions to a range of U.S. government agencies working on development issues; some of their responses were recently released on our Policy to Action microsite. As we asserted in our statement, “We now have initial evidence that reform is beginning to make our development assistance more strategic and effective. We urge Members of Congress to take note of this progress, particularly with budget negotiations underway.”
This week we’re kicking off a new blog series—the first connected to information on our microsite—that takes a critical eye to the specific agency efforts designed to make our foreign assistance more transparent and effective and attempts to assess the pace of progress in key areas of reform.
The first part of the blog series will include a piece by MFAN’s co-chair and former Congressman Jim Kolbe exploring the role of the U.S. Trade Representative in promoting economic growth in developing countries, and a piece from former USAID Acting Deputy Administrator Jim Kunder on USAID’s leadership role in the reform agenda. We have also invited several more of our Principals to respond more broadly to how the Obama Administration’s foreign assistance reform agenda is or is not bearing fruit.
And be on the lookout for MFAN’s upcoming transparency contest on Twitter—follow along @ModernizeAid—for the chance to win some swag!