WASHINGTON, D.C.--Today, Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) along with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) announced the introduction of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act (HR 3766). This bipartisan bill would increase public oversight over foreign aid by requiring federal agencies to show both where taxpayer money is spent around the world and how effective that aid is.
Since the passage of the Foreign Aid Act in 1961, foreign aid programs have grown and spread across 12 federal departments, 22 agencies, and almost 60 offices – many of which have no monitoring and evaluation procedures in place.
In 2011, the Administration launched “The Foreign Aid Dashboard,” a public, online resource that allows users to examine foreign aid in an accessible and easy-to-understand format. Nevertheless, by its own admission, the site is incomplete, with information posted from only 10 of the 22 federal agencies that administer aid. Without a statutory requirement to maintain the data, any Administration can just as easily take down the website or continue to post incomplete information.
The “Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act” addresses both of these problems. First, it would require the President to establish guidelines on measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans for all foreign aid programs. Second, it would increase aid transparency by codifying what is currently being done through the Foreign Assistance Dashboard and increasing the amount of information required to be posted online, including actual expenditures and evaluations.
“It is time to modernize and reform the outdated foreign aid program”, said Rep. Poe. “Under the current system, billions of taxpayer dollars are sent to a majority of the countries in the world, and no one really knows how efficient or effective that aid is. Implementing a system to evaluate the success (or failure) of each program will increase both learning and accountability, making the program stronger. It is also important for Americans to know exactly where their money is sent.”
"As a longtime proponent of foreign assistance who, as a staffer for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, helped write the last reauthorization of the Foreign Assistance Act, I appreciate the importance of accountability in our foreign aid programs," said Rep. Connolly. "This bill will bring needed transparency to an often misunderstood part of the federal budget, which will in turn allow us to continue to grow our investment in stability and prosperity abroad."
“Although it is less than 1 percent of our budget, foreign assistance plays an important role in advancing American interests in the world, but taxpayers have a right to see where and how American dollars are being used overseas,” Sen. Rubio said. “Foreign aid should be conditioned to advance our national interests and reflect our moral clarity as a nation. The programs we invest taxpayer dollars in must reinforce our alliances and support the spread of economic and political freedom around the world. Sharing more information about our assistance programs will provide much needed transparency and accountability to this useful foreign policy tool.”
“U.S. leadership on foreign development, aid programs, and economic assistance is the global gold standard making impactful and positive changes throughout the world,” said Sen. Cardin. “But we must always demand the highest standards of transparency and accountability to ensure our foreign assistance efforts are making the most positive and meaningful impact in the communities we assist. This legislation will establish common guidelines to evaluate our development programs in order to maximize efficiencies and ensure transparency, while fulfilling the highest standards of our foreign assistance responsibilities.”