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Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Unknown

Mr. POE of Texas. I thank the gentlewoman and appreciate her yielding me this time. I want to thank Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member Berman, and House leadership for getting this bill to the House floor, and also Mr. Connolly from Virginia for his support of this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, H.R. 3159, the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, is a simple, bipartisan bill. We have, in fact, equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats as cosponsors of this legislation.

Last year, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed this bill unanimously as an amendment to the state authorization bill. This bill does two things: it increases monitoring and evaluation of our foreign aid programs, and it also increases transparency of foreign aid.

Our foreign aid can do some good to other countries, but there are also problems with American foreign aid. Unfortunately, we do not keep track of what we're spending, and we don't ask for real results.

Since the passage of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, foreign aid programs have spread across 12 departments, 25 agencies, and almost 60 Federal offices. There are so many Federal Government programs that they often don't know what each other is doing, and many Federal Government programs don't even keep track of what they're doing.

According to an independent study commissioned by USAID in 2009, agencies don't assess the impact their aid is having on foreign countries:

Do we know if our money actually helps people?

Is our money helping people become more self-sufficient or more reliant on U.S. dollars?

And does American aid leave people better off?

We don't know the answers to these questions. This bill addresses this problem by requiring the President to set up tough monitoring and evaluation guidelines for development programs.

These guidelines will be used for monitoring and evaluation of every foreign aid development program from agriculture to AIDS to democracy promotion. Monitoring will allow us to cut programs that simply do not work.

We also need transparency. Americans don't know what we spend our aid on, and so that is why many Americans are frustrated when the word or phrase ``foreign aid'' is mentioned. We need to be honest with American taxpayers.

Until November of 2011, the United States ranked 22nd out of 31 countries when it came to transparency in foreign aid programs. That's according to the Brookings Institute and the Center for Global Development.

We should have nothing to hide when it comes to foreign aid. Let's tell the American taxpayers what they're getting for their buck. This bill requires more information about foreign aid to be posted online so Americans can know what we are doing.

We can't continue down the path of the same-old same-old regarding foreign aid. We need to restore trust with the American people. Lack of transparency and accountability invites corruption, waste, and incompetence.

The losers are those who the programs aim to help and also Americans who pay for foreign aid. Regardless of whether a Member believes we need more foreign aid, less foreign aid, or no foreign aid at all, we should all agree that accountability and transparency are an absolute must.

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