On Thursday, Nov, 14, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved S. 1271, The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013, a bill sponsored by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD). Among other measures, the bill requires regular evaluations of foreign assistance programs to be made publicly available to the American people.
The bill is now pending further action by the full Senate.
“As we see the ongoing devastation in the Philippines, we are again reminded of how important an engaged America is for the world,” said Rubio. “Foreign aid is a key pillar of our nation’s foreign policy that can advance our national interests. The American people deserve more information and answers about whether these commitments abroad are worth the sacrifice given our own domestic challenges.
The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013 directs the President to establish goals, performance, and evaluation guidelines for U.S. foreign assistance programs, country assistance plans, and international and multilateral assistance programs.
“Now more than ever, these programs need to include strong accountability measures that would give the American people confidence that their money is being put to good use in advancing American interests abroad,” Rubio added.
If enacted, the bill would also:
· Require federal agencies administering foreign aid to regularly monitor and evaluate these programs against specific metrics, as well as to publish the results of these evaluations online.
· Give federal agencies up to two years to fully comply with a mandate to post quarterly reports on their management of any foreign aid funds.
· Allow for classified briefings and written reports to Congress in cases where public dissemination of quarterly reports would jeopardize the security of an implementing partner, or be detrimental to the national security interests of the U.S.
· Mandate biennial reports from the U.S. Government Accountability Office on the different agencies’ implementation of the bill.
· Recommend that Congress take into account these reports when appropriating funds for federal agencies administering foreign aid programs.
It isn’t often that a divided Senate is able to unanimously pass anything. With our continuing and expanding involvement in the world today, it is important to know how the hard-earned money of the USA is spent. Perhaps this bill, or one similar, will help us to gain control over the giant sucking sound that accompanies many of our foreign policy agendas. We shall see.
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