Maximizing U.S. Foreign Aid

Here’s the deal- despite what many people think, U.S. foreign aid makes up approximately one percent of the federal budget. That small investment has the power to radically transform and save lives around the world.

In a time of shrinking and uncertain budgets, it is important to allow American citizens to better understand our foreign assistance efforts and ensure that every cent of our scarce foreign assistance dollars is used in the most effective and efficient way possible.

That’s why Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and I introduced the “Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015,” legislation to establish guidelines for measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans for foreign aid programs and to increase transparency by codifying and increasing the amount of information posted online.

In plain English- This legislation will help us more efficiently focus our foreign aid and give you the ability to see where the money goes. It will also make it easier for Congress and taxpayers to figure out if our efforts are working.

You can review a section-by-section summary below and please leave a comment with your thoughts.

Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015

Section 1. Short Title. This section provides that the short title of this Act is the “Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015.”

Section 2. Definitions. This section defines the terms “appropriate congressional committees,” “evaluation,” and “United States foreign development and economic assistance.”

Section 3. Guidelines for United States Foreign Development and Economic Assistance Programs. This section requires the President to establish guidelines for federal departments and agencies to use in monitoring and evaluating (M&E) programs that provide foreign development and economic assistance. The guidelines must be established within 18 months of enactment of this Act and meet several objectives, including the establishment of an annual M&E agenda, development of project-specific M&E plans with measurable goals and performance metrics, application of rigorous monitoring and evaluation methodologies, development of a clearinghouse capacity for the collection and dissemination of knowledge and lessons learned, the inclusion of verifiable, valid, credible, precise, reliable, and timely data, and more. The President is required to report to Congress a detailed description of the guidelines no later than 18 months after the passage of the Act. No later than a year after the Presidential report, GAO is required to report to Congress an analysis of the guidelines and a side-by-side comparison of the President’s budget request for units that carry out foreign assistance and the performance of such units.

Section 4. Information on United States Foreign Development and Economic Assistance Programs. This section requires the Secretary of State to post foreign aid data online, including all regional, country, and sector assistance strategies, annual budget documents and budget justifications, descriptions of foreign development and economic assistance programs, and any evaluations or summaries of evaluations. Exceptions are made for any information that may jeopardize the health or security of implementing partners or program beneficiaries, release proprietary information of implementing partners or program beneficiaries, or be detrimental to U.S. national interests. In the case of such exceptions, the Administration must provide a briefing or written report to Congress explaining the exceptions. Noncompliance with this section by any agency or department will require a report to be submitted to the appropriate congressional committees explaining the failure, establishing a timeline for compliance, and describing steps to prevent noncompliance in the future.

A PDF of the legislation can be found here.