US Transparency: An Assessment of US Foreign Assistance Documents
February 22, 2019
This analysis will focus exclusively on the availability of US government documents related to foreign assistance. It is primarily based on our user-experience of exploring the data for the four chosen countries published by the Department of State (State), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). This report focuses primarily on documents and other web-based pages which provide information on what a project is about, what approach has been taken, and what it has achieved, including pre-project impact appraisals, annual or quarterly reports, and evaluations.
The Aid Transparency Index is the only independent measure of aid transparency among the world’s major development agencies. It tracks and encourages progress, while holding donors to account for commitments they have made to open up their information. In 2018, it assesses 45 agencies. It is researched and produced by Publish What You Fund.
This is the sixth year that Publish What You Fund has assessed the United States (U.S.) progress on aid transparency. Since the U.S. commitment to joining the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) in Busan in November 2011, the Aid Transparency Index has been tracking the quality of the publication of U.S. aid information by five U.S. agencies and one initiative.
Featuring data from surveys and in-depth interviews with 52 key stakeholders in the U.S. government and civil society, this report is an evaluation of aid transparency over the past decade. It recognizes the progress the U.S. has made, including political commitments from both the Bush and Obama administrations to aid transparency. However, aspects of implementation have proved to slow the pace, including the ‘whole of government’ approach, which held back leaders such as MCC from publishing their information initially. Furthermore, the dueling dashboards of USAID’s Foreign Aid Explorer and State’s ForeignAssistance.gov provided conflicting data given their different approaches to data publication.
Publish What You Fund's Aid Transparency Index is an internationally recognised measure of the state of aid transparency in the world’s leading aid organizations. The 2016 Index was another opportunity to work to improve aid transparency and meet the December 2015 Busan deadline. The list of organisations included in the 2016 Index has been revised to concentrate on fewer, larger donors, as well as those that have been instrumental to advancing the course of aid transparency.
This is the fifth year that Publish What You Fund has assessed the United States (U.S.) progress on aid transparency. Since the U.S. commitment to joining the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) in Busan in November 2011, the Aid Transparency Index has been tracking the quality of the publication of U.S. aid information by five U.S. agencies and one initiative.
When the U.S. signed up to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) in 2011, it committed to make U.S. aid transparent by December 2015. The implementation of those aid transparency commitments four years later remains mixed. The 2015 Reviews assessed a smaller number of key donors, including the U.S., in the run up to the Busan deadline and were released in mid-2015.