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Posts Tagged ‘aid transparency’

MFAN Community Reacts to House Passage of Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act

Thursday, December 10th, 2015
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Less than three months after being introduced, the House of Representatives passed the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 3766). This bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) would codify important reforms to ensure that U.S. agencies involved in foreign assistance are doing rigorous and consistent monitoring and evaluation and are making comprehensive, timely, and comparable aid data publicly available. MFAN and our partners are pleased to see both the House and Senate taking swift action to move this important bill through.

See below for a roundup of reactions from around the MFAN community to the news of House passage, and also check out blogs from Oxfam and ONE.

MFAN: MFAN commends the bill sponsors Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) for their continued leadership on aid effectiveness and their effort to see this bill signed into law. We also thank Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) for moving swiftly to pass this important legislation.

The Lugar Center’s Senator Richard G. Lugar (Ret.): More than ever the expenditure of every U.S. taxpayer dollar must be effectively spent in the development space, not just for taxpayer accountability, but also for greatest impact for those receiving our assistance.  Legislation requiring increased accountability of these funds, both by requiring greater transparency and strengthened systems for monitoring and evaluating these programs, takes an important step in ensuring effectiveness. I applaud the U.S. House of Representatives in recognizing the important role that they play in bringing greater transparency and accountability to U.S. foreign assistance and congratulate my former colleague, Congressman Poe, on his continued leadership of this important policy.

USGLC’s Liz Schrayer: We applaud the House of Representatives for unanimously passing important legislation today that continues our efforts to ensure the accountability and effectiveness of our nation’s foreign assistance programs. This bipartisan legislation will further strengthen America’s global leadership and advance our interests and values around the world. We urge the Senate to join the House by passing the companion legislation sponsored by Senators Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin before the end of the year.

Bread for the World’s David Beckmann: Making all U.S. foreign assistance more transparent and accountable will help certify that our tax money is used efficiently,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “This legislation is especially important now that the global community has embraced new global goals that would virtually end hunger and poverty by 2030. It’s clear that more openness and transparency are key to helping the U.S. achieve better results and lead the charge of ending global hunger and poverty.

Oxfam’s David Saldivar: Even in these highly partisan times, Congress today has found that transparency in foreign aid is in everyone’s interest. We hope the Senate quickly follows suit since greater transparency and accountability in our foreign aid will help people in developing countries do more to lead their own development, and use US help more effectively to fight poverty.

InterAction: This bipartisan bill makes U.S. foreign assistance more effective and accountable, and has had strong support in both the House and the Senate under the leadership of Sens. Marco Rubio and Ben Cardin and Reps. Ted Poe and Gerry Connolly. In November, the bill was unanimously passed by both the House Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. InterAction thanks the House for moving quickly to pass this important legislation that is supported by a coalition of more than 35 NGOs, and looks forward to working with the Senate to pass the bill as soon as possible.

A Win for Aid Effectiveness: House Passes Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015
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December 8, 2015 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs George Ingram, Carolyn Miles, and Connie Veillette

Today the House of Representatives overwhelmingly demonstrated bipartisan commitment to making U.S. foreign assistance more accountable by passing the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 3766) by voice vote. MFAN commends the bill sponsors Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) for their continued leadership on aid effectiveness and their effort to see this bill signed into law. We also thank Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) for moving swiftly to pass this important legislation.

MFAN strongly supports this bipartisan legislation, which would codify important reforms to ensure that U.S. agencies involved in foreign assistance are focused on rigorous and consistent monitoring and evaluation of programs and on making comprehensive, timely, and comparable aid data publicly available. By reinforcing its existing commitments to transparency and evaluation through legislation, the U.S. government can better track, measure, and allocate scarce aid resources. At a time when the U.S. is facing an unprecedented number of humanitarian and development challenges around the globe, efforts to ensure our foreign assistance is being spent effectively, like this legislation, must be prioritized.

We urge the full Senate take up and pass the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act immediately. A companion bill (S. 2184) was introduced by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) and was unanimously approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on November 10. Having now passed with resounding bipartisan endorsement from the full House, this legislation should likewise be supported by the Senate and sent to the President for his signature.

Congress Eyes Greater Transparency in Foreign Aid, This Time the Timing Could be Right

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015
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See below for a guest post from Lori Rowley, Co-Chair of MFAN’s Accountability Working Group and Director of Global Food Security and Aid Effectiveness at The Lugar Center. This post is part of MFAN’s ACCOUNTdown to 2017 Dialogue Series.

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From the perspective of both U.S. taxpayers and recipients of U.S. foreign assistance, it’s been a very positive few weeks on both sides of the Capitol. Legislation to advance greater transparency of U.S. foreign assistance programs has now been approved by the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

As a staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under the leadership of Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-IN), I staffed the Senator when he authored the Senate companion bill  that Congressman Ted Poe introduced in the 112th Congress and has continued to introduce in every Congress since then, The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act. The bill narrowly missed enactment in the waning days of that Congress – late in December of 2012 – despite a unanimous vote by the full House.

Since that time, interest in the topic of foreign aid effectiveness has not waned. Neither has the need for it. In fact, in today’s world, maintaining the effectiveness of our taxpayer dollars in keeping starving people alive with critical food aid, investing in women, smallholder farmers so they can improve their crop production and in turn feed their families, and supporting  HIV/AIDS victims with life-saving medical treatment is more vital than ever.  Our financial resources in supporting people in the developing world be able to move from living in crisis to living in stability are stretched to their maximum, with destabilized governments, drought and continued lack of access to water and basic education a constant across much of the world. We need to see where we’re investing, what we’re getting in return, and how we can make progress to move these countries and their citizens from being dependent on our aid to becoming our trading partners.

In my current position at The Lugar Center, we continue to endorse the critical investment in developing countries in order to promote a more prosperous and stable world.  We believe that an important component of this investment is ensuring its effectiveness through transparency, and we work to promote it. The Obama Administration took important steps in this area, with the creation of the webpage, foreignassistance.gov. Here taxpayers are now able to see how much of their taxpayer dollars go to a specific country and for what purpose. Further, the transfer of this data to the International Aid Transparency Registry provides even greater transparency regarding the flow of aid funds into each developing country by a host of donors, NGOs and others from across the globe.

While some federal agencies responsible for administering U.S. foreign aid are already living up to executive branch commitments to be more transparent about where and for what purpose taxpayer dollars are being spent, regrettably not all of them are. The posting of this information to foreignassistance.gov, is uneven and often incomplete. Only the Millennium Challenge Corporation has received a rating of “Very Good” on the Publish What You Fund 2014 Aid Transparency Index.  Frankly, all 22 federal agencies providing foreign assistance need to do better.

Here is where the Congress can play a critical role. By enacting legislation that requires all federal agencies providing foreign assistance to publish their data to the foreignassistance.gov webpage, the legislative and executive branches of government become partners in working to ensure transparency, and thus accountability in our foreign assistance. That is a win-win for both U.S. taxpayers and people across the globe who receive our aid. Locking in important steps to improve our foreign assistance seems ripe for action now, and I am hopeful that as we approach December of 2015, enactment of the Foreign Aid Accountability and Transparency Act won’t be a narrow miss as it was when I staffed this bill, but rather a full endorsement of foreign aid transparency and accountability by both the House and the Senate.

Letter to Secretary Kerry: Support the Foreign Aid Transparency & Accountability Act

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
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November 11, 2015

The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Secretary:

On behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN), a coalition of international development practitioners and foreign policy experts committed to strengthening development as a key component of U.S. foreign policy, we are writing to urge your active support of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, introduced in the Senate (S. 2184) by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) and in the House (H.R. 3766) by Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA). This bicameral, bipartisan legislation recently passed out of both the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and is worthy of the Administration’s strong endorsement. Specifically, the bill seeks to embed transparency and evaluation practices in the work of all agencies that administer U.S. foreign aid – longstanding priorities for both you and President Obama that would deliver greater impact in the developing world and in the lives of those we are trying to reach with our assistance.

The United States has made strides in recent years in improving the quantity and quality of U.S. foreign assistance data available to the public. President Obama’s sweeping Presidential Policy Directive #6 in 2010 declared accountability as a priority of his administration, stating “The United States will…Set in place rigorous procedures to evaluate the impact of policies and programs, report on results and reallocate resources accordingly, incorporate relevant evidence and analysis from other institutions, and inform the policy and budget process” as well as “Undertake a more substantial investment of resources in monitoring and evaluation, including with a focus on rigorous and high-quality impact evaluations.”

The establishment of the Open Government Partnership and the ForeignAssistance.gov website to centralize U.S. foreign assistance information continues to demonstrate this Administration’s commitment to openness and accountability, both to the American public and beneficiaries of U.S. assistance around the world. All three U.S. Open Government National Action Plans[1] have called for agencies administering foreign assistance to publish their aid information in line with the internationally agreed-upon standard, which is consistent with the U.S. commitment to the International Aid Transparency Initiative. Yet to date, only ten of the more than 22 agencies that manage foreign assistance programs have published any data to ForeignAssistance.gov since the launch of the website five years ago.

We know that improved oversight and accountability of U.S. assistance has been a personal priority for you. Under your leadership, the State Department’s recent 2015 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review affirms the importance of data-driven decision-making for diplomacy and development. In addition, the State Department’s recently updated evaluation policy includes publication of full evaluations of unclassified foreign assistance evaluations on a rolling basis beginning this year.

We are grateful for your engagement on the aid effectiveness agenda over the years, including helping to approve similar legislation in both the 112th and 113th Congresses when you served as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Given your commitment to accountability and effectiveness, both as Secretary of State and previously as United States Senator, we ask you to make known your strong support for passage of this sensible but critical legislation in order to sustain the ongoing efforts of this administration for years to come.

Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to continuing our work together to maximize the effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance.

Sincerely,

George Ingram
MFAN Co-Chair
Brookings Institution

Carolyn Miles
MFAN Co-Chair
Save the Children

Connie Veillette
MFAN Co-Chair
The Lugar Center

 

 

[1] “As outlined in past OMB guidance to Federal agencies, by December 2015, agencies managing or implementing U.S. foreign assistance will establish an automated and timely process for publishing foreign aid data to ForeignAssistance.gov. Throughout 2014, the United States Agency for International Development, the Department of State, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Treasury, and other agencies will work to add or expand detailed, timely, and high-quality foreign assistance data to ForeignAssistance.gov.” (2nd Open Government U.S. National Action Plan, 2013)

 

Welcome to MFAN’s ACCOUNTdown to 2017 Dialogue Series

Monday, November 16th, 2015
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Coverage of the 2016 elections, now just under a year away, is inescapable these days, providing a constant reminder that the clock on the Obama Administration and the 114th Congress is quickly running out. This summer, MFAN launched the ACCOUNTdown to 2017 campaign as a way to track progress made toward strengthening the accountability and country ownership of U.S. foreign assistance. The goal of the campaign is simple: take stock of where Congress and the Administration are in meeting their reform commitments and outline further steps that should be taken before the buzzer sounds.

With 15 months to go, today we are launching the ACCOUNTdown Dialogue Series. Over the coming months, we will take a deeper dive into our pillar issues of accountability through enhanced transparency, evaluation, and learning, and country ownership of the priorities and resources for, and implementation of, development in order to publicly assess progress in these areas. The Dialogue Series will offer both an MFAN perspective and a U.S. government perspective on the current state of each of the 6 sub-pillars. We hope that you will follow along with the series and engage with us on social media to offer your own thoughts on where progress is being made or lagging, and what you hope to see this Congress and Administration accomplish.

Be sure to check back later in the week as we post our first piece on transparency from Lori Rowley, MFAN’s Accountability Working Group Co-Chair and Director of Global Food Security and Aid Effectiveness at The Lugar Center. Lori’s piece will discuss the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 3766 / S. 2184), which was recently unanimously approved by both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as the upcoming December deadline for the United States to meet its commitment to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).