Washington, D.C. – Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 3766, the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act. The legislation, which will now be signed into law by the president, was sponsored in the Senate by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). U.S. Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerald Connolly (D-VA) sponsored the House version. This new law will bring greater transparency and accountability to U.S. development and economic assistance programs by requiring the public posting of data about these efforts. The bill also extends this transparency and accountability to some aspects of security assistance, specifically the International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INCLE) program.
“This legislation is a win for taxpayers in Florida and across the country who recognize the importance of American engagement in the world but want to ensure their dollars are being used effectively to advance our interests and values,” said Rubio. “American taxpayers will no longer be left in the dark about how and where their tax dollars are being spent when it comes to foreign assistance. This new law will increase the amount of information the public has access to, and it's an important way the American taxpayer can hold these programs accountable. I am proud to have been part of authoring this legislation, and I am pleased to see it head to the White House to be signed into law.”
“The United States remains a generous leader on foreign development, aid programs and economic assistance worldwide,” said Cardin. “But with more than a dozen federal departments and agencies delivering U.S. foreign assistance, we must ensure the highest possible efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of our precious foreign assistance investments. I’m pleased the Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act is now on its way to the President to become law. The bill sends a clear message to the American taxpayer, as well as governments and civil society in developing countries, that transparency and accountability are absolutely critical to the effectiveness of our foreign assistance programs. This information will not only enable American citizens to better understand our foreign assistance efforts, but will allow recipient countries to better include aid flows in their budgets and planning, and will provide NGOs, legislators and citizens in the developing world with the information they need to hold their governments accountable for the assistance they receive. Once signed, the United States will finally be taking steps to fulfilling our obligations under the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).”
The “Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015” (S. 2184) was introduced last year and requires the President of the United States to establish and implement guidelines with measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans across U.S. international assistance programs. It also requires the Secretary of State to ensure the ForeignAssistance.gov website contains detailed information regarding U.S. foreign assistance on a program-by-program and country-by-country basis that is updated quarterly. The act would further require that analysis be undertaken by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to inform Congress on relevant agencies’ adherence to these benchmarks.
The act passed the House of Representatives in December of last year, and it passed the Senate with modifications last week before returning to the House for final passage last night.
Transparency and accountability in U.S. foreign assistance benefits the American people, who have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent, and it also allows recipient countries to better include aid flows in their budgets and planning. Additionally, civil society, lawmakers and citizens in developing countries can better hold their governments accountable and reduce the incidence of corruption.
The legislation is supported by a diverse group of dozens of NGOs and civil society organizations, including the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN).