U.S. foreign assistance agencies are leading across the government and the world in transparency and accountability, according to The 2020 Aid Transparency Index, issued by Publish What You Fund. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is ranked first among U.S. federal agencies and seventh in the world for aid transparency. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) achieved its best performance as well, rising to the top tier of the “good” category and the State Department moved into the “good” category for the first time.
The review found that “the U.S. commitment to aid transparency remains strong and U.S. agencies clearly accept transparency as a policy norm.” Since the U.S. became a signatory to the International Aid Transparency Initiative in 2011, nearly 100% of foreign assistance is now available to view on the Foreign Assistance Dashboard. Moreover, the State Department and USAID have finally begun to consolidate their two separate dashboards – foreignassistance.gov and foreign aid explorer – to streamline the data collection process and deliver more accurate and high quality data.
“Data should be accurate and if the U.S. government is saying two different things through two different websites, it gets confusing,” said Jim Richardson, the director of the State Department’s Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources. But more importantly, he emphasized that “we need data to make better decisions,” highlighting the Department’s focus on evidence-based approach and leveraging data to deliver maximum development impact.
Data should be accurate and if the U.S. government is saying two different things through two different websites, it gets confusing… [W]e need data to make better decisions.
USAID is one of four federal agencies that is fully compliant with the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2016, which required 22 federal agencies to increase their data transparency and improve monitoring and evaluation. USAID has initiated significant reforms as well to increase its focus on results and leverage data to better support partner countries’ journey to self-reliance. USAID has conducted more than 1,100 evaluations by independent third parties since 2011 and reports that more than 90 percent of these evaluations were used to shape policies to increase program effectiveness.
Progress on transparency and accountability at America’s development and diplomacy agencies should assure Congress and the public on America’s capacity to effectively deliver life-saving resources to the most vulnerable.