At USAID, transparency is an important part of our commitment to achieving sustainable development results and to doing business well. It is a core tenet of who we are as an Agency rather than a set of actions and ensures that we are good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars.
Last week, I had the opportunity to discuss this Administration’s commitment to transparency on a panel with Gayle Smith, special assistant to the President and senior director at the National Security Council; Robert Goldberg, director of Foreign Assistance at the State Department; Sheila Herrling, vice president for Policy and Evaluation; David Hall-Matthews, managing director of Publish What You Fund; and Paul O’Brien, vice president of Oxfam America. The event, hosted by Publish What You Fund and ONE, featured the launch of Publish What You Fund’s informative and authoritative Aid Transparency Index 2012. The Administration welcomes civil society efforts to monitor foreign aid progress on transparency and hopes that the index will continue to expand as more non-governmental organizations make their aid data available.
Along with our inter-agency partners, USAID has been pursuing innovative ways to increase transparency, and I highlighted some of the steps we’re taking:
- A completely redesigned USAID.gov website, including an interactive map that allows you to navigate around the world to view projects and programs;
- Detailed program information on the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, which shows in a visual, easy-to-understand way USAID and other U.S. Government agencies’ foreign assistance information;
- Crowdsourcing and hackathon efforts, like the Food Security Open Data Challenge, that make open data accessible to technology developers, decision makers and citizens so they can make better informed decisions and inspire entrepreneurial innovation;
- Our Evaluation Policy that helps us all understand what we have done well and what we need to improve, and is made available within 90 days of completion on the Development Experience Clearinghouse; and
- USAID’s posting of U.S. Overseas Loan and Grants to Data.gov that has been viewed 63,500 times, and is currently the second most popular data set on that site.
USAID also represents the U.S. Government in international negotiations on transparency principles and standards in venues like the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, the OECD-DAC and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). With the publication of last week’s OMB Bulletin, a document that sets policy and institutionalizes the collection and management of foreign assistance data, we’re moving forward to complete and publish a U.S. IATI Implementation Plan by December.
President Obama has made transparency a key priority of this Administration – one that goes beyond just making data available but making data useful. At USAID, we know that transparency is vital to achieving the development impacts that we and our partners seek, and we will continue to take a leadership role in working with our partners inside and outside of government to make our information more transparent, accessible and useful for development work. I encourage you to read more about USAID’s activities to promote transparency.