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Public Statements

Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CONNOLLY of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3159, as amended, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Let me start first by thanking my distinguished colleague from Texas (Mr. Poe) for his leadership on this legislation. He and his staff have worked tirelessly to address a range of technical issues so that this bill could be considered under suspension.

H.R. 3159 is an important first step in bringing greater rationality and oversight to the foreign aid process. It contains two fundamental reforms to make our programs more efficient, more effective, and better at serving our national interests.

The first is to strengthen monitoring and evaluation so that we can be sure our aid is performing as intended. Right now we make most of our aid decisions in the dark. We set budgets year after year without having any idea necessarily what the outcomes might be. This bill requires the President to establish a consistent set of guidelines so that all Federal agencies carrying out development assistance will set measurable goals, establish indicators, monitor results, and evaluate impact. We can make much better decisions about how and where to invest our scarce resources once we know which types of programs are the most cost-effective and produce the best results.

The second reform is to increase aid transparency so that everyone can see where we're spending the money and why. There are all too many misperceptions about the size of the foreign aid budget and exactly what it does. This bill will address that.

It also requires the President to establish and maintain an Internet Web site that makes comprehensive and timely information accessible to the public.

Similar reforms are included in comprehensive foreign aid reform legislation recently introduced by the current ranking member of our committee, Mr. Berman, and myself. They were also included in the State Department authorization bills passed by the full House under the leadership of our outgoing chairwoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, in 2009, and reported by the Foreign Affairs Committee in 2011. Both times, these provisions were adopted with strong bipartisan support.

The administration also recognizes the need for these types of changes. They've created the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, a Web site that provides accessible and easy-to-understand data about our aid programs. Both the Millennium Challenge Corporation and USAID have put into place their own rigorous evaluation policies.

This bill will ensure that all Federal agencies carrying out development programs will adhere to the same high standards, and at a time when there are so many issues that divide our parties and our Nation, I think this is one that we can come together on. Again, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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