Government Launches New Tool to Improve Transparency of Foreign Aid Spending

Today, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, a new tool to shed light on U.S. foreign aid spending.

The site offers a user-friendly way to explore spending by State and USAID, with data going back to 2006 in some cases. The data is broken down by country, by office, or by sector (e.g. health, security, education). In addition to charts and graphs, users can view the data in customized tables or download the raw data. Overall, the site is a strong start and has ambitious plans for future improvements.

The major limitations of the site are in the underlying data. Currently, the site only includes data from State and USAID, omitting other agencies involved in U.S. foreign aid. In addition, the data report appropriated amounts, not actual spending, so project-level information is not available. However, the developers plan to address these limitations in future updates, and are looking for feedback on what users would like to see.

Importantly, the site also describes the administration's aid transparency agenda and notes that the Dashboard is only the first product. That message was echoed in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) released yesterday by State and USAID, a blueprint for overall U.S. diplomacy and global development policy. The QDDR makes clear that aid transparency, for both foreign and domestic audiences, is an official element of U.S. development policy. Publish What You Fund highlights the key language, and the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network calls it a positive step.

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