The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved legislation introduced by Ranking Member Sen. Dick Lugar that would set standards for the accountability and transparency of U.S. Foreign Aid.
The bill requires monitoring and evaluation of U.S. foreign assistance and calls on the President to establish uniform guidelines for all agencies that provide foreign assistance. U.S. foreign assistance program would need to report detailed and timely information on a public website to ensure effectiveness, transparency and accountability.
"This legislation represents an important step in bringing greater accountability and transparency to U.S. foreign assistance by codifying firm timelines for establishing uniform standards for assistance and for making this information public," Lugar said.
By requiring the President to set uniform guidelines for the monitoring and evaluation of U.S. foreign assistance, both American taxpayers and recipients of U.S. foreign assistance may more fully understand the effectiveness of that aid. Further, Lugar explained, "the bill requires that all foreign assistance be posted on a single internet website, making U.S. assistance transparent."
A coalition of groups and individuals, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network, wrote Committee Chairman John Kerry in urging him to take up the bill: "In an era of constrained budget resources, it is imperative that the United States get the most out of every dollar we spend on foreign assistance. With more than two dozen federal departments and agencies involved in delivering U.S. foreign assistance, the time has come for the President to issue and oversee a set of common guidelines on the monitoring and evaluation of these programs across all agencies, as well as for this information to be made publicly available. American taxpayers, along with partner countries' governments and their citizens, deserve to know and have the ability to access and track comprehensive, timely, and comparable data on all U.S. foreign assistance."
Lugar has worked for more than a decade toward improving foreign assistance accountability. Throughout his career he has called for greater transparency and openness in the dealings of governments and public institutions and led anti-corruption efforts with the international financial institutions. Most recently he teamed with Sen. Ben Cardin to pass the Cardin-Lugar Amendment requiring open reporting of payments for oil, gas, and minerals.
At the end of this year, with the departure of Lugar and Congressman Mike Pence, the four originators of the Free Flow of Information Act will all be gone from Congress. The Bush and Obama administrations both opposed the bill and successfully worked to block its passage.
In 2000, Lugar was the first U.S. Senate campaign in the country to voluntarily disclose all his donor information on the internet. Since the beginning of his public career he has gone beyond personal financial reporting requirements and released every year a detailed income statement and balance sheet.