Amid political debates ahead of national elections, a bipartisan reform proposal seeking a common standard for monitoring and measuring the performance of U.S. development programs is a step closer to being enshrined into law.
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed on Sept. 19 the Foreign Assistance Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012, or S. 3310. This bill was introduced earlier this year by Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana. It is supported by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Democrat Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. It is the senate version of a reform proposal introduced in the House of Representatives by Republican Rep. Ted Poe of Texas and Democrat Rep. Howard Berman of California.
Both versions of the bill call for increased and better monitoring of U.S. aid resources, evaluation of projects and programs’ impact as well as analysis of monitoring findings. The proposals also seek annual monitoring and evaluation agendas and training programs for aid personnel on how to better monitor programs. These are to be applied to all U.S. government agencies delivering foreign assistance.
Further, the bills propose creating a website where the public can view comprehensive, timely and comparable information on U.S. foreign aid programs. A version of this website currently exists but it offers limited information, mostly just based on data from the U.S. Agency for International Development and State Department.
It may take some time, though, for the bills to become legislation. The full Senate floor needs to approve the bill while the House version needs to be cleared on the committee and floor levels. The upcoming elections will also likely affect the bills’ progress.
U.S. foreign aid advocates, nonetheless, welcomed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s action.
“We believe the passage of S. 3310 in SFRC is a strong indication of greater cooperation in the months and years to come,” Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network Co-Chairs David Beckmann, George Ingram and Jim Kolbe said in statement.
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