An Afghan pupil reads a poem to her classmates at a girls school in Kabul. / Patrick Baz, AFP

An Afghan pupil reads a poem to her classmates at a girls school in Kabul. / Patrick Baz, AFP

Being transparent about how we spend U.S. foreign aid is necessary for effective and accountable development.

It benefits governments, civil society, citizens and donors alike. That’s why at a high-level forum in Busan, Korea in 2011, the United States joined others in voluntarily agreeing to publish timely, comprehensive and forward-looking information on development cooperation resources.

The United States became a member of the Open Government Partnership, a consortium of over 60 countries “committed to making their governments more open, accountable, and responsive to citizens.”

At USAID, we are delivering on that commitment.

After the Busan forum, USAID created a working group to produce a cost management plan to improve its reporting to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) — which developed a standard for publishing foreign assistance spending data, allowing for comparison across publishers.

We are doing more reporting and sharing foreign assistance financial data at and in the IATI standard. We have doubled-down on strengthening the quality of our data, and are pushing hard to use it to drive evidence-based development that delivers the best results possible for people around the world.

The 2016 U.S. Aid Transparency Review, released today by Publish What You Fund, a United Kingdom-based NGO advocating for greater aid transparency, ranks USAID 19 out of 46 of the world’s major donor organizations.

It recognizes that we have made improvements since the last index; however, we feel that USAID’s “fair” rating does not fully reflect our commitment and progress since 2011.

We were pleased to release our new report, “Strengthening Evidence-Based Development: Five Years of Better Evaluation Practice at USAID ” last month. The report reflects our commitment to strong evaluation practices — including sharing data and results on the Development Experience Clearinghouse — and ways we’ve improved since 2011.

To help inform the U.S. Government’s aid transparency agenda, USAID also conducted three aid transparency country pilot studies in Zambia (May 2014), Ghana (June 2014), and Bangladesh (September 2014).

The country pilots assessed the demand for and relevance of information that the U.S. Government is making available, as well as the capacity of different groups to use it.

USAID’s Cost Management Plan, released in July of last year, is proving to be an effective roadmap for us to continue making progress to improve data quality and reach maximum compliance in reporting to IATI.

For example, we have added 21 more fields to our quarterly reporting to increase our IATI compliance. We are also improving our internal reporting systems with the Development Information Solution, which is currently in development.

In addition to updating IATI compliance, the Agency has created Foreign Aid Explorer for better ease and use of aid information and is doing more work on geocoding and open data efforts.

We share Publish What You Fund’s perspective that aid transparency is fundamental to achieve development results.

Getting exactly to where we want to be on aid transparency is a marathon, not a sprint, and we’re not there yet. We are proud of efforts to date and remain fully committed to continuing to make significant progress on aid transparency.


Wade Warren is the Assistant to the Administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning.