June 29, 2016

Rubio-Cardin Bill On Track To Become Law

Washington, D.C. – Last night, the U.S. Senate approved ‎H.R. 3766, the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act. The Senate version of the legislation, which is expected to soon pass the House and be signed into law by the president,‎ was sponsored by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). U.S. Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Gerald Connolly (D-VA) sponsored the House version. Once enacted, this law will bring greater transparency and accountability to U.S. foreign aid programs by requiring the public posting of data on their efforts. 

“In Florida, we have a greater appreciation than most people about the impact U.S. foreign and military assistance can have in making our hemisphere more secure and therefore more prosperous in ways that benefit us. U.S. assistance has this impact all over the world, but American taxpayers have a right to know more about how and where their tax dollars are being spent,” said Rubio. “Florida is one of the most generous states in the country when it comes to assisting others abroad, whether it's charitable giving, remittances, or simply giving their time, but that generosity requires vigilance and accountability – and the same goes for how their taxpayer dollars are spent abroad. This new law will increase the amount of information the public has access to, and it's an important way the American taxpayer can hold these programs accountable.”‎ 

“The United States remains a generous leader on foreign development, aid programs and economic assistance worldwide,” said Cardin. “But with more than a dozen federal departments and agencies delivering U.S. foreign assistance, we must ensure the highest possible efficiency,  effectiveness, and transparency of our precious foreign assistance investments. The Senate’s passage of the Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act  sends a clear message to the American taxpayer, as well as governments and civil society in developing countries,  that transparency and accountability are absolutely critical to the effectiveness of our foreign assistance programs. This information will not only enable American citizens to better understand our foreign assistance efforts, but will allow recipient countries to better include aid flows in their budgets and planning, and will provide NGOs, legislators and citizens in the developing world with the information they need to hold their governments accountable for the assistance they receive. Today’s Senate passage also takes us one step closer toward fulfilling our obligations under the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).”  

The “Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2015” (S. 2184) was introduced last year and requires the President of the United States to establish and implement guidelines with measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans across U.S. international development and economic assistance programs. It also requires the Secretary of State to ensure the ForeignAssistance.gov website contains detailed information regarding U.S. foreign assistance on a program-by-program and country-by-country basis that is updated quarterly. The act would further require that analysis be undertaken by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to inform Congress on relevant agencies’ adherence to these benchmarks. 

The act passed the House of Representatives in December of last year, but the bill as modified by the Senate will now return to the House ‎for final passage before going to President Obama for signature. 

Transparency and accountability in U.S. foreign assistance benefits the American people, who have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent, and it also allows recipient countries to better include aid flows in their budgets and planning. Additionally, civil society, lawmakers and citizens in developing countries can better hold their governments accountable and reduce the incidence of corruption. 

The legislation is supported by a diverse group of dozens of NGOs and civil society organizations, including the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network(MFAN).