US Foreign Assistance Dashboard
June 1, 2013 § 2 Comments
Foreign Assistance by CountryClick image to enlarge. Source: http://foreignassistance.gov/countryIntro.aspx
The term ‘Dashboard‘ is defined as “a control panel placed in front of the driver of an automobile, housing instrumentation and controls for operation of the vehicle.” In the aftermath of Memorial Day patriotism, I found this definition fitting. The United States is democracy, after all, so its citizens have a voice that can create and catalyze change. It happens every day. And in that respect, the Foreign Assistance Dashboard is a tool for empowerment.
The United States provides billions of dollars in foreign assistance each year. Those are tax dollars, of course, but this is the first time that the raw data for tracking their use has been placed in the hands of citizens. Begun in 2010, this dashboard is one among many fruits of the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government (the Open Government Directive). Though it certainly displays weaknesses inherent in our nations data gathering mechanisms–and though in certainly displays weaknesses of its own1–this dashboard also stands as a sign of progress, transparency, and accountability. Voters are essential drivers behind one of our greatest national vehicles for good1: foreign assistance. It is only fitting that we now have a road map–however incomplete.
“The Foreign Assistance Dashboard was created in response to the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and President Obama’s Open Government Initiative. The goal of the Foreign Assistance Dashboard is to enable a wide variety of stakeholders, including U.S. citizens, civil society organizations, the Congress, U.S. Government agencies, donors, and partner country governments, the ability to examine, research, and track U.S. Government foreign assistance investments in an accessible and easy-to-understand format.
The Dashboard is still in its early stages of development. Future versions will incorporate budget, financial, and program data in a standard form from all U.S. Government agencies receiving or implementing foreign assistance, humanitarian, and/or development funds. Those agencies include but are not limited to:
|Department of Agriculture||Department of the Treasury|
|Department of Commerce||Department of Transportation|
|Department of Defense||Environmental Protection Agency|
|Department of Energy||Federal Trade Commission|
|Department of Health & Human Services||Inter-America Foundation|
|Department of Homeland Security||Millennium Challenge Corporation|
|Department of the Interior||Peace Corps|
|Department of Justice||U.S. African Development Foundation|
|Department of Labor||U.S. Agency for International Development|
|Department of State||U.S. Trade Development Agency|
Currently the Foreign Assistance Dashboard website provides both raw data and summarized data/interactive infographics for evaluating (among other things) the planned, obligated, and actual spend out of US tax dollars toward foreign assistance.To learn more, visit the FAQ page of foreignassistance.gov