Today the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched Version 1.0 of the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, a new platform devoted to making it easier than ever for policymakers, civil society, and the public to understand U.S. investments and their impact around the globe.
Do you want to know how much the U.S. invested in education in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009? The Foreign Assistance Dashboard makes it easy to see and compare investments across sectors and countries at a glance. Civic-minded developers and researchers can download any and all of the Dashboard’s data in a machine-readable format to mash, visualize, and analyze U.S. budget data in new ways.
Today’s launch of the Foreign Assistance Dashboard is but a starting point for greater U.S. aid transparency. In the months to come, the Dashboard will grow beyond State and USAID to include data from all Federal agencies that provide foreign assistance. In addition, more granular and timely data will enable users to drill down to the details of specific projects and track trends. With time, the Dashboard will illuminate not only dollars spent but also the impact of our investments. Ultimately, government-wide collection of featured high-value data will be institutionalized through guidance from the Office of Management and Budget.
The Dashboard will advance U.S. goals for global development and broader prosperity by shining a light on how much foreign assistance is provided, for what purposes, and with what result. Increased transparency will enable recipient governments to better plan and budget. It will enable donors around the globe to coordinate and target investments most effectively. And it will empower civil society worldwide to hold governments and donors accountable for development results.
The Foreign Assistance Dashboard is the latest milestone in the Obama Administration’s commitment to create “an unprecedented level of openness in Government.” President Obama signed the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government as his first executive action. From publishing the names of visitors to the White House to providing historic visibility into the expenditure of taxpayer dollars, the Administration has already taken unprecedented steps to increase transparency and accountability in government. In his 2010 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, the President underscored his support for open government principles worldwide, calling on countries in all corners of the globe to make specific commitments that will strengthen the compact between citizens and their leaders.
Jeremy Weinstein is Director for Democracy on the National Security Staff
Robynn Sturm is Advisor to the Deputy Director in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy