POGO Supports More Transparency and Accountability for Taxdollars Spent on Foreign Security in the House

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August 15, 2013

Dear Representative,

We write in strong support of the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013 (HR 2638).

This bill would require the administration to establish guidelines 18 months after enactment for measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans that could be applied “with reasonable consistency” to all U.S. foreign assistance.  One year after that (i.e., 30 months after enactment) each U.S. Government department or agency that administers foreign assistance will be required to apply the guidelines to assistance they provide to foreign partners.

We believe this requirement will improve aid effectiveness and ensure the responsible use of taxpayer dollars. For this same reason, we oppose efforts by the administration to exempt assistance to foreign security forces—$25 billion in 2012 [1]—from this requirement.

We note that the bills’ authors have included a waiver for security assistance if the Secretary of State makes a determination that “the administration of [a monitoring and evaluation] program in accordance with the guidelines would be detrimental to the national interests of the United States.” We believe that this waiver authority adequately addresses administration concerns.

Meanwhile, a series of recent government reports have indicated a profound lack of results-based assessment for security assistance.

Among them, a February 2012 report by the GAO highlights striking deficiencies in monitoring and assessment by the Department of Defense of its humanitarian assistance, and a report by the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board in January 2013 calls for a “comprehensive review of all ‘security assistance’ —broadly defined—to develop a national strategy, and to identify what is in fact being done, by which agencies with what resources and with what objective and success.” In April 2013 the White House itself issued a “requirement for measurable security sector assistance objectives, appropriate data collection of the impacts and results of security sector assistance programs, and improved efforts to inform decision - making processes with data on what works and what does not work,” as part of a Presidential Policy Directive (PPD-23).

We believe that transparency in the use and effectiveness of tax dollars is a key component of open government and that this sector of assistance should be held to account — just as development assistance should be.

We urge you to co-sponsor HR 2638 and to support its passage into law.


Bill Goodfellow
Executive Director, Center for International Policy

Sue Udry
Executive Director, Defending Dissent Foundation

Michael Shank
Director of Foreign Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation

Rev. Kristin Stoneking
Executive Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation

Raymond W. Baker
President, Global Financial Integrity

Bea Edwards
Executive Director, Government Accountability Project

San Worthington
CEO, InterAction

J.H. Snider, Ph.D.
President, isolon.org

Lisa Haugaard
Executive Director, Latin America Working Group

Gerry G. Lee
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Andrew Koppel
Vice President of Global Engagement and Policy, Mercy Corps

Patrice McDermott
Executive Director, openthegoverment.org

Morton H. Halperin
Senior Advisor, Open Society Policy Center

Stephen Rickard
Executive Director, Open Society Policy Center

Gregory Adams
Director of Aid Effectiveness, Oxfam America

Danielle Brian
Executive Director, Project On Government Oversight

Rick Ufford-Chase
Executive Director, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

Ellen S. Miller
Executive Director and Co-Founder, Sunlight Foundation

Dana Brown
Executive Director, U.S. Office on Colombia

Joy Olson
Executive Director, Washington Office on Latin America

[1] Department of State, International Security Advisory Board, Report on Security Capacity Building, January 7, 2013