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Letter


NTU supports the "Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act," S. 1271 and H.R. 2638

April 23, 2014

The Honorable Marco Rubio
United States Senate
317 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Ted Poe
United States House of Representatives
2412 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Senator Rubio and Representative Poe:

On behalf of the 362,000-members of National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write in support of the “Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act,” S. 1271 and H.R. 2638 in the Senate and House respectively. Your legislation would bring much-needed fiscal discipline to the sprawling foreign aid process by requiring federal agencies to establish performance-evaluation guidelines for assistance programs and creating a user-friendly website, in compliance with the Open Government Plan, to track how taxpayer money is being spent.

With numerous foreign aid programs spanning almost 60 federal offices across 22 agencies receiving increased funding over the past ten years, it is difficult to evaluate the efficacy of much foreign aid. This lack of accountability is problematic for taxpayers as well as aid workers both here and abroad. According to a 2012 report on the effectiveness of foreign aid programs from the Congressional Research Service, “success or failure is not entirely clear” due to a lack of evaluation, varied methodologies, and unclear objectives. The report goes on to explain, “Analysts have noted that after decades of aid agencies spending billions of dollars on assistance programs, very little is known about the impact of these programs.” A more recent April 2014 investigation by the Government Accountability Office found that “little clarity” in U.S. Agency for International Development reporting “complicated the assessment of the agency’s progress.”

Massive deficits and a soaring national debt make it essential that all spending at the federal level be carefully examined to ensure taxpayer funds aren’t wasted and that our national priorities are being addressed in an efficient manner. This requires not only clear objectives, measurable goals and rigorous performance standards as prescribed by the legislation, but also increased transparency. S. 1271 and H.R. 2638 would codify the Obama Administration’s “Foreign Assistance Dashboard” initiative, which currently contains limited information from only eight of the 22 federal agencies that administer aid. Additionally, the bill would cast a wider net for information that should be posted.

This new transparency would make our aid dollars more accountable to taxpayers and legislators, as well as help recipient countries better utilize aid. Knowing more about where dollars are going and how they are to be used will help fight corruption and improve planning to avoid unnecessary waste—just one reason why members of the international aid community have endorsed the legislation as well.  

S. 1271/H.R. 2638 promises to reduce wasteful spending and increase the effectiveness of our foreign aid programs—goals that should unite all lawmakers. NTU is pleased to endorse the “Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act” and encourages all Members to work toward its passage.

Sincerely,

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Nan Swift
Federal Affairs Manager