01 August 2013

USAID Makes Progress Towards Budget Transparency

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Raj Shah announced that the US Foreign Assistance Dashboard was not only updated, but it included 53,000 financial transactions from the first three quarters of fiscal year 2013. It builds off an executive order signed by President Obama to make government information open and machine readable.

“Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing,” said President Obama in a memorandum.

The announcement is a significant forward step for transparency at USAID. The dashboard was created early in the Obama administration to much fanfare, but there were complaints that it was hard to access, data was sparse and it was not published in accordance with International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standards. Changes come ahead of the deadline Publish What You Fund’s 2013 Aid Transparency Index and they should lead to improved marks over 2012.

“Never before has our Agency published spending data so comprehensively and so soon after the close of the quarter,” said Shah in a blog post about the release.

“Our commitment to transparency has not only helped strengthen accountability and improve communication; it has also had a direct impact on the way we work every day.”

US transparency efforts are already showing positive impacts around the world. Shah cites the use of data from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network by small farmers in rural Kenya to negotiate prices for crops.

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