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The State Department and USAID get a gold star this week for publishing a detailed plan for reporting all US government aid data to the Foreign Assistance Dashboard and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) by the end of 2015.

The press release says initial data is up on the Foreign Assistance Dashboard and is in IATI's common data standard. The implementation schedule says:

By the end of 2012, the U.S. Government plans to publish (1) CY 2009, 2010 and 2011 CRS data and (2) forward-looking budget request data (for approximately 70% of total ODA flows) in the IATI XML format. The U.S. Government will continue to publish IATI compliant data in the following three ways: (1) Activity level data on a quarterly basis will be published for approximately 70% of total ODA by the end of 2013. The coverage is expected to increase to approximately 90% of total ODA by the end of 2014, with 100% of all ODA flows reporting all available IATI compliant data expected by the end of 2015. (2) At the end of February each year, the U.S. government will publish annual, 1-year forward planning budget data which is the requested amount submitted to Congress. ODA coverage rates are expected to follow the same pattern as the quarterly activity data. (3) Verified, complete statistical data and information on U.S. Government ODA flows will be published in the IATI format at the end of each calendar year once OECD/DAC reporting is complete.

The US announcement follows news that other international aid donors are also making a big push for aid transparency. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) just launched a new data platform detailing where and how it is spending $5.8 billion in FY11 funds. UNDP made its own commitment to full aid transparency and IATI compliance by 2013. And US legislation that would codify some of these aid transparency efforts could be voted on in the House of Representatives next week.

When OMB released guidance on how the US government would collect and share aid data, I said it was the kind of unsexy document that matters. I suspect there are readers rolling their eyes at high praise for an "implementation schedule" but again, it matters for getting things done. And it's even better that the detailed schedule is up in the public domain and not just circulating among government policymakers' inboxes. It also comes pretty close to fulfilling another of the foreign aid steps I said the Obama administration could accomplish before the end of the first term. The White House nominated the MCC board members and there is now a schedule for reporting aid data. Any chance the president's Global Development Council could help ring in the new year?