By Steven Schnelle (Legal Fellow, IHC)
July 13, 2012
As August recess quickly approaches, Capitol Hill has seen a flurry of activity in foreign aid reform as Senator Richard Lugar (R-In.) introduced the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Bill of 2012 (S. 3310) and Senator John Kerry (D-Ma.),together with cosponsors Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), introduced the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review Act of 2012 (S. 3341).
The Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act, together with house companion bill H.R. 3159, seeks to authorize the President to establish comprehensive monitoring and evaluation guidelines for foreign assistance programs. The bill calls for the President to consult the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Department of Defense in the establishment of these guidelines and in their execution. Furthermore, the bill compels the President to distribute the reports generated by these monitoring and evaluation programs both internally within these agencies and to the general public through a website. Currently, foreign aid information can be found here.
The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review Act of 2012 similarly hopes to expand the use of monitoring and evaluation tools of the U.S. development agencies, but pairs this effort with an objective evaluation of U.S. diplomatic interests. Moreover, unlike the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability bill, which authorizes the President to oversee the monitoring and evaluation of foreign aid programs, the act empowers the Secretary of State to develop and execute these evaluation programs. Although the act proposes that the Secretary should consult with the heads of other relevant Federal agencies, the Committee on Foreign Relations and Committees on Appropriations of the Senate and House, these consultations would not be legally obligatory.
The IHC welcomes methods of further grounding U.S. foreign aid strategy in objective assessment with the goal of expanding upon strengths in aid delivery and improving underperforming programs.