DearColleague.us

Letter

From: The Honorable Ted Poe
Sent By: luke.murry@mail.house.gov
Bill: H.R. 2638
Date: 10/21/2013

Dear Colleague,
Since the passage of the Foreign Assistance Act in 1961, foreign aid programs have spread across 12 departments, 25 agencies, and almost 60 federal offices. Funding levels have likewise swelled, doubling in the last 10 years alone. However, according to the conclusions of an independent study commissioned by USAID, “current monitoring and evaluation of most U.S. foreign assistance is uneven across agencies, rarely assesses impact, lacks sufficient rigor, and does not produce the necessary analysis to inform strategic decision making.” Many programs simply have no monitoring and evaluation procedures in place at all.
What’s more, most foreign assistance programs still operate in the dark. A recent study on aid transparency compared the transparency of U.S. programs to other large donors and found “the U.S. performs relatively poorly…in fact, U.S. organizations occupy five of the bottom seven ranks.” On January 11, 2011 the Administration launched “The Foreign Assistance Dashboard,” a public, online resource that allows users to examine foreign assistance in an accessible and easy-to-understand format. Nevertheless, by its own admission, the site is incomplete, with information from only five of the twenty-two federal agencies that administer aid posted and even then only a fraction of the information promised is posted. Finally, without a statutory requirement to maintain the data, any Administration can just as easily take it down as it was put up.
H.R.2638, the “Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act,” gets at both these problems. First, it requires the President to establish and the heads of federal agencies to implement guidelines on measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans for all foreign assistance programs. Second, it codifies what is currently being done through the Dashboard Initiative and increases the amount of information required to be posted, including congressional budget justifications, actual expenditures, and reports and evaluations.
It is especially important during these difficult economic times to ensure we are spending our money wisely. Lack of transparency and accountability invites corruption and waste, and the losers are both those whom the programs aim to truly help and the hardworking Americans whose taxpayer dollars fund our foreign assistance programs. If you have any questions or would like to cosponsor H.R.2638, please contact Luke Murry at luke.murry@mail.house.govin Rep. Ted Poe’s office or Hera Abbasi at hera.abbasi@mail.house.gov in Rep. Gerald Connolly’s office.
Sincerely,

TED POE GERALD CONNOLLY
Member of Congress Member of Congress