US Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) today introduced the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013, a bill that requires regular evaluations of foreign assistance programs to be made publicly available to the American people. Companion legislation is also being introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA).
"Thanks to the generosity of the American people, our foreign aid dollars have saved lives. Foreign aid makes up approximately one percent of the federal budget, but it has helped create better trade partners, helped empower citizens in every part of the globe stand up for their basic human rights and hold their governments accountable, and helped combat terrorism. There is no doubt that this one percent of our federal budget has the power to radically transform lives," said Cardin. "Our goal is to ensure the highest possible efficiency and effectiveness of US foreign assistance investments by requiring robust and uniform accountability -- and full transparency -- of each and every foreign aid dollar, so that we can measure our success."
"America's foreign assistance programs need greater transparency to ensure that they are advancing our values and interests overseas," said Rubio. "Taxpayers deserve to know where their tax dollars are being spent and how effectively these investments are representing our nation's international priorities. I will continue to find ways to ensure that the funds we devote to these types of programs are being spent wisely and in a way that advances U.S. national security objectives."
The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013 directs the President to establish goals, performance, and evaluation guidelines for US foreign assistance programs, country assistance plans, and international and multilateral assistance programs. It builds upon previous efforts by including specific measurement guidelines from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the American Evaluation Association (AEA).
The bill requires federal agencies administering foreign aid to regularly monitor and evaluate these programs against specific metrics, as well as to publish the results of these evaluations online. If enacted, the bill would give federal agencies up to two years to fully comply with a mandate to post quarterly reports on their management of any foreign aid funds. The bill allows for classified briefings and written reports to Congress in cases where public dissemination of quarterly reports would jeopardize the security of an implementing partner, or be detrimental to the national security interests of the US.
The bill mandates biennial reports from the GAO on the different agencies' implementation of the bill. The bill also recommends that Congress take into account these reports when appropriating funds for federal agencies administering foreign aid programs.