US Foreign Aid Transparency: How to Fix Dueling Dashboards

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The U.S. publishes an enormous amount of data on foreign assistance—including detailed information on budgets, spending, and results—as well as what could be considered electronic libraries of documents on projects, evaluations, and contracts. Just finding all the information—scattered across a multitude of websites—can be daunting. That task is made all the more difficult when different dashboards publish data on what purport to be identical indicators yet the statistics reported to the public are sometimes vastly different. For frequent users, this breeds distrust of all data that the U.S. publishes. For unsuspecting users, it provides potentially very misleading information. In an effort to resolve the work of State and USAID, the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network recently adopted the “Principles for An Effective Dashboard on U.S. Foreign Assistance,” co-written with Publish What You Fund. This exercise has been done with the hope that the consolidation exercise that State and USAID are undertaking will focus attention on the needs of users to have timely and quality information, taking into account the expertise and development roles of each of these U.S. government entities. More on the recommendations are available here.

Source: Brookings

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