Bruckner: NGOs Must Publish Budgets

A man loads bags of wool blankets to be sent to Georgia as part of the U.S. Agency for International Development's humanitarian relief efforts. Photo by: Chuck Simmins / CC BY 2.0 Chuck SimminsCC BY 2.0

It is part of a non-governmental organization’s duty to taxpayers and aid recipients to explain how their funds are spent, Tim Bruckner writes on the “Aid Watch” blog.

“Secrecy and charity make for strange bedfellows,” the former managing director of Transparency International in Georgia argues.

Transparency International Georgia attempted to track and monitor the expenditure of the USD4.5 billion pledged by donors to support humanitarian and reconstruction work in Georgia after the country’s 2008 conflict with Russia. The group was “in for a shock,” Bruckner says.

The group asked 12 NGOs to publicize their budgets, but only Oxfam GB responded, he writes. The other NGOs wrote to Transparency International saying they are unable to publish their budgets at such short notice because of contractual and legal implications involved with donors.

Bruckner says he wrote to the U.S. Agency for International Development, which is one of Georgia’s biggest donors, to request for copies of the NGOs’ budget. USAID’s response was that the agency needed the NGOs’ consent before it can publish the budgets, Bruckner writes.

This closes what he calls opacity loop, he says.

“First NGOs had blamed donors for not being able to release budgets, and now the biggest donor was passing the buck back to NGOs,” he says.

Bruckner suggests the U.S. Congress “step in and require USAID to publish what US-funded NGOs spend.”

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.