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 —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.
Executive Director, Center for International Policy
Executive Director, Defending Dissent Foundation
Director of Foreign Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Rev. Kristin Stoneking
Executive Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation
Raymond W. Baker
President, Global Financial Integrity
Executive Director, Government Accountability Project
J.H. Snider, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Latin America Working Group
Gerry G. Lee
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Vice President of Global Engagement and Policy, Mercy Corps
Executive Director, openthegoverment.org
Morton H. Halperin
Senior Advisor, Open Society Policy Center
Executive Director, Open Society Policy Center
Director of Aid Effectiveness, Oxfam America
Executive Director, Project On Government Oversight
Executive Director, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
Ellen S. Miller
Executive Director and Co-Founder, Sunlight Foundation
Executive Director, U.S. Office on Colombia
Executive Director, Washington Office on Latin America