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About Aid Transparency


Transparency is a hallmark of this Administration. President Obama signed the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government as his first executive action on his first day in office. The Open Government Directive seeks to ensure greater accountability in government with specific instructions and milestones for achieving greater transparency, participation, and collaboration across the Executive Branch.

The Administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability extends into the international community as well. This commitment is part of a long-standing U.S. effort to enhance aid effectiveness, consistent with its endorsement of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) launched at the United Nations in September 2011 is a global agreement between dozens of nations to set basic standards of openness. As part of the OGP effort, the U.S. developed a National Action Plan (NAP), which requires increasing transparency in foreign assistance by releasing government-wide reporting guidance. The U.S. Government codified this effort to achieve greater transparency in foreign assistance with the release of the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Bulletin 12-01, which offers federal agencies guidance on the collection of U.S. foreign assistance data. Under the Bulletin, the 22 agencies that fund or execute foreign assistance programs are asked to provide more detailed, standardized budget, financial, and implementation data. Over time, ForeignAssistance.gov will become the source for all U.S. Government foreign assistance data and the data submitted to the site will be used to fulfill the congressional and international data reporting requirements. For more detailed information about the Bulletin, please see the Understanding the Data and What’s Coming pages.

The U.S. Government is committed to making information on foreign assistance programs more transparent, accessible, and compatible with international standards. In November 2011, the U.S. Government became a signatory to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and has begun publishing data in accordance with the IATI standard. The U.S. Government is also taking active steps to meet the commitments endorsed at the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, Korea in December 2011. The Busan Outcome Document (Paragraph 23) states that adherents “…will work to improve the availability and public accessibility of information on development co‐operation and other development resources. . .” and “. . . implement a common, open standard for electronic publication of timely, comprehensive and forward‐looking information on resources provided through development co-operation. . .” The U.S. schedule for implementing these Busan transparency commitments can be accessed here. ForeignAssistance.gov is the primary tool for the U.S. Government to deliver on its promise of making aid data more transparent.
The ForeignAssistance.gov site helps the U.S. pursue the following objectives:
  • Make foreign aid more useful for development. Greater aid transparency accomplishes this objective by assisting recipient governments to better manage their aid flows and by empowering citizens to hold governments accountable for how assistance is used.
  • Increase the efficacy of our foreign assistance. With a clearer understanding of what we are doing, where, and to what effect, the U.S. will be better positioned to maximize the impact of our resources and investments.
  • Increase international accountability. Greater access to information about assistance will help developing country governments and international civil society to hold donors accountable for the quantity and quality of aid flows.
The ForeignAssistance.gov site is guided by the following core principles:
  • A presumption in favor of openness.
  • An initial focus on the publication of existing data online in an open format that can be retrieved, downloaded, indexed, and searched by commonly used web search applications. An open format is one that is platform independent and made available to the public without restrictions that would impede the re-use of that information. Published data will be registered on Data.gov.
  • Detail, Timeliness, and Quality: Data will be published with the level of detail, quality, and speed needed to enhance government development planning and empower citizens to hold their government accountable. This will include detail on where, when, on what, and to what effect (i.e. results) assistance is planned, committed, planned for disbursement, and spent. Multi-year forward projections of this data will be included to the extent permitted by law and regulation.
  • Prioritization: Agencies will prioritize high-value data, information that can be used to increase agency accountability and responsiveness, further the core mission of foreign assistance, or respond to need and demand as identified through public consultation.
  • Comprehensiveness & Comparability: The U.S. Government will encourage maximum coverage and comparability across agencies, donors, countries, and types of flows and should publish data in a common standard to ultimately enable global comparisons across data sets.
  • Accessibility: The U.S. Government will encourage entrepreneurs and civil society organizations to visualize and package the data in ways that make it easy for non-experts to understand and use. The U.S. Government will also develop strategies for delivering the data in useful formats to partner governments.
  • Institutionalization: The U.S. Government will institutionalize a process that facilitates the collection and dissemination of data on foreign assistance across agencies.