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Glossary of Terms

Development Finance

The use of public sector funds to facilitate private-sector investment in countries where the commercial or political risks are too high to attract private investment. These include foreign direct investment, philanthropy, remittances, and domestic resource mobilization.

Official Development Assistance (ODA)

Government aid designed to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries. Loans and credits for military purposes are excluded. Aid may be provided bilaterally, from donor to recipient, or channeled through a multilateral development agency like the United Nations or the World Bank.

Open Data/Open Gov

A philosophy, and increasingly a set of policies, that promotes transparency, accountability, and value creation by making government data available to all. Public bodies produce and commission huge quantities of data and information. By making their datasets available, public institutions become more transparent and accountable to citizens.

Other Official Flows (OOF)

Official sector transactions that do not meet official development assistance criteria. This category includes export credits extended directly to an aid recipient by an official agency or institution, the net acquisition by governments and central monetary institutions of securities issued by multilateral development banks at market terms; subsidies (grants) to the private sector to soften its credits to developing countries; and, funds in support of private investment.

Development Assistance Committee (DAC)

An arm of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; its mandate is to promote development co-operation and other relevant policies so as to contribute to implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, poverty eradication, improvement of living standards in developing countries, and to a future in which no country will depend on aid.

International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI)

A global initiative that brings together governments, multilateral institutions, private sector and civil society organizations and others to increase the transparency and openness of resources flowing into developing countries.

632(a)

The section of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 that allows a non-expenditure transfer of funds from the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to a recipient implementing U.S. government agency. An agreement under this section is more commonly known as an Interagency Agreement (IAA). Under an IAA, the recipient U.S. government agency assumes program and financial responsibility and may use the Department of State or USAID’s and/or its own authority in obligating the funds. The funds are obligated by the recipient agency. A 632(a) agreement constitutes a legal augmentation of the recipient agency‘s appropriation. The Department of State or USAID’s budgetary resources are reduced and the recipient agency resources are increased. Under a 632(a) agreement, the recipient agency records obligations and tracks and reports on the funding. 

632(b)

The section of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 that gives the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) authority to provide foreign assistance funds to utilize the services and facilities of any requesting U.S. government agency. All obligations are recorded, tracked, and reported in the Department of State or USAID’s financial systems.

653(a)

The section of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 that requires the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to report to Congress their apportionment of funds by country and category of assistance. The “Appropriated” tabs on ForeignAssistance.gov’s map, agency, and category pages depict funding that Congress has appropriated to agencies, with the Department of State and USAID’s figures updated following completion of the 653(a) report.

Appropriation

Funds that have been provided by Congress for committing obligations or making payments to specific accounts, typically for certain programs, projects, and activities.

Appropriations Act

A public law passed by Congress and signed by the President of the United States that provides funds for committing obligations and making payments (expenditures) out of the U.S. Department of Treasury for specified purposes. This can take one of three forms. A Continuing Appropriations Resolution (CR) provides budget authority for federal agencies and/or specific activities to continue operations when Congress and the President have not completed action on the regular appropriations acts by the beginning of the fiscal year. A Consolidated Appropriations Act packages many smaller, ordinary appropriations bills into one larger single bill that could be passed with only one vote in each house. A Supplemental Appropriations Act is budget authority provided in addition to regular or continuing appropriations and is generally made to cover emergencies, such as disaster relief, or other needs deemed too urgent to be postponed until the enactment of next year's regular appropriations act.

Appropriated Actuals

A type of planned funds that report on the allocation of prior-year appropriated funding. Appropriated Actuals do not reflect obligations, expenditures, disbursements, or other types of committed or spent data. Rather, they document how the funds that were appropriated by Congress were allocated by U.S. government agencies among countries, regional programs, and other worldwide activities, by category and sector, after any reprogramming or steps of the budget execution cycle. These are the final planned figures that guide how funds will then be obligated. The “Appropriated” tabs on ForeignAssistance.gov’s map, agency, and category pages depict funding that Congress has appropriated to agencies, updated to reflect agencies’ final planned figures once available.

Obligation

Funds which have been applied by a U.S. government agency to defined activities and bind the U.S. government to make outlays either immediately or in the future. Obligations, also called commitments, may include a range of transactions, such as contracts, grants, guarantees, assistance agreements, etc. The "Obligated" tabs on the map, agency, and category pages depict funding that an agency has reported as being assigned to a program, project, contract, or initiative.

Request

The president’s budget proposal to Congress provides a comprehensive outline of all programs the President proposes to execute in the following fiscal year, and how much money is requested for each. The "Requested" tabs on ForeignAssistance.gov’s map, agency, and category pages depict funding that an agency has requested to be assigned to a program, project, or initiative.

Spent

Outlays, disbursements, and expenditures by a U.S. government agency that include the amount of checks issued, cash disbursed, interest accrued, and net of refunds and reimbursements. They are payments to liquidate obligations (other than the repayment of debt). The "Spent" tabs on the map, agency, and category pages depict government outlay, disbursement, and expenditure data. Disbursements are the funds paid/outlaid by U.S. government agencies, by cash or cash equivalent, during the fiscal year to liquidate government obligations. Expenditures are the actual disbursement of funds in return for goods and services.

Award

A form of implementing mechanism through which an agency transfers funds to an implementing partner, generally selected through a competitive process resulting in a contract, grant or cooperative agreement. Often used interchangeably with the term “activity.”

Budgetary Data

Funds that are set aside to be spent by the U.S. government and its implementing partners in the future. Budgetary data is composed of request data—funds requested by U.S. government agencies—and appropriation data—funds appropriated by Congress to U.S. government agencies through spending bills signed into law.

Financial Data

Funds that include both obligated data, which the U.S. government decides can be mobilized, and spent data, which the U.S. government has mobilized to purchase goods and services. Transaction data is the most granular form of financial data and represents every individual financial record in an agency’s accounting system for program work with implementing partners and administrative expenses.

Fiscal Year (FY)

A term that is used to differentiate a budget or financial year from the calendar year. The U.S. government's fiscal year begins on October 1 of the previous calendar year and ends on September 30 of the year with which it is numbered. For example, FY 2010 is October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010.

Sector

Data is classified into one of several distinct sectors that describes what the program does and enables the aggregation, comparison, and analysis of data without double counting.

Transaction

An individual financial record in an agency's accounting system.

Comma Separated Values (CSV)

A CSV file is a computer data file used for implementing the tried and true organizational tool, the Comma Separated List. The CSV file is used for the digital storage of data structured in a table of lists form. Each line in the CSV file corresponds to a row in the table. Within a line, fields are separated by commas, and each field belongs to one table column. CSV files are often used for moving tabular data between two different computer programs (like moving between a database program and a spreadsheet program).

Extensible Markup Language(XML)

A flexible language for creating common information formats and sharing both the format and content of data over the Internet and elsewhere. XML is a formatting language recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

JavaScript Object Notation (JSON)

A lightweight data-interchange format. It is easy for humans to read and write. It is easy for machines to parse and generate. It is based on a subset of the JavaScript Programming Language, Standard ECMA-262 3rd Edition - December 1999. JSON is a text format that is completely language independent but uses conventions that are familiar to programmers of the C-family of languages, including C, C++, C#, Java, JavaScript, Perl, Python, and many others. These properties make JSON an ideal data-interchange language.
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