Another Assessment Finds U.S. Among Least Transparent of Foreign Aid Donors
by Gavin Baker, 10/26/2010
A new international study ranks the U.S. 25th out of 30 donors in the transparency of its foreign aid spending.
Publish What You Fund's Aid Transparency Assessment, released this week, compares 22 countries along with the United Nations, European Commission, and six other multilateral institutions or multi-donor funds. The U.S. scored 53.4% on the assessment, below the average score of 60.8%, placing it in the "Poor" category.
The U.S. scored especially poorly on indicators of how well U.S. aid information can be integrated into recipients' planning and budgets. In addition, the U.S. received low marks for its lack of engagement with the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), a multi-donor effort to develop standards for aid information.
Low scores on these indicators are particularly damning given the international context of foreign aid spending. Unlike information about domestic programs, which is mostly of domestic interest, international users comprise a large part of the audience for aid information. A cowboy approach to aid transparency not only increases the burden on the countries we're trying to help, it also makes it more difficult to compare and coordinate with other donors, hindering assessments of performance and accountability.
However, the U.S. received better scores in other areas. For instance, the U.S. was among the top countries in the availability of specific types of information related to aid spending.
The report echoes the findings of another recent study on aid transparency by the Center for Global Development and the Brookings Institution, which ranked the U.S. 24th out of 31 donors.