Congress Sends a Clear Message about the Value of Transparency

Photo By: Matt H. Wade (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

On Tuesday, July 5, Congress passed the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act (H.R.3766). 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 (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA). InterAction thanks the House and Senate for passing this important legislation, and looks forward to seeing the bill signed into law by the President as quickly as possible.

The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act (FATAA) calls on the president to establish monitoring and evaluation guidelines for departments and agencies that manage foreign assistance, and requires those agencies to make comprehensive and timely information on foreign assistance programs publicly available. Having transparent and accurate information about where foreign aid is going and what it is being used for is essential to identifying gaps, reducing duplication, and allocating resources to where they are needed most. This data also facilitates collaboration with partners and donors.

Since the U.S. government joined the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) in 2011, InterAction has monitored agencies’ progress in making comprehensive, timely, and comparable data on aid available. By using the IATI standard – now the international standard for publishing aid information – agencies ensure that the data they make public is not only useful to the U.S. development community and U.S. taxpayers, but to those in countries meant to benefit from U.S. foreign assistance as well.

The FATAA bill institutionalizes the U.S. government’s transparency efforts, recognizing that being open is fundamentally important to the effectiveness of aid. Ten agencies now publish data to IATI, with varying degrees of success. More than 10 other agencies (accounting for a small percentage of U.S. foreign assistance) have yet to make their data available. With this clear message from Congress about the value of transparency, InterAction looks forward to working with agencies to make even faster progress.