The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act has passed a full vote in the House of Representatives – a move that was welcomed by aid advocacy organizations including The Borgen Project.
In a statement released after the vote, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) commended Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) for sponsoring the bill and thanked house leadership for moving swiftly to bring it to the floor. “At a time when the U.S. is facing an unprecedented number of humanitarian and development challenges around the globe, efforts to ensure our foreign assistance is being spent effectively, like this legislation, must be prioritized,” MFAN said.
The legislation, which received bipartisan support, would strengthen the government’s commitment to maximizing aid transparency and effectiveness in a few ways. It would require the President to develop uniform interagency guidelines for measurable goals and performance metrics. And, it would ensure that U.S. foreign aid agencies use these guidelines to consistently monitor and evaluate their programs and provide comprehensive aid data to the public. By doing so, legislators hope to better track and allocate scarce aid resources.
Despite public perception, less than one percent of the federal budget is allocated for foreign aid – around $54 billion compared to over $600 billion in military spending. This money funds 110 missions undertaken by USAID in over 100 developing countries including health and education initiatives, security and peacekeeping missions, economic development and disaster relief.
At a time when Congress is seeking across-the-board spending reductions, the FY2016 budget includes $6 billion less in foreign assistance than last year. It is, therefore, vital that development agencies use every dollar as efficiently as possible.
“Foreign assistance plays an important role in advancing American national security interests in the world, creating new markets for American businesses and helping improve the lives of millions of people living in poverty. However, we must also always demand the highest standards of transparency and accountability to ensure that our foreign assistance efforts are making the most meaningful impact possible in the communities we assist,” said Tim Nelson, Congressional Relations Manager at The Borgen Project.
A companion version of the bill sponsored by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in November and must now pass a full vote before being sent to the President for signing.
– Ron Minard