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Aid effectiveness, US global development policy, US foreign assistance, the Millennium Challenge Account
Sarah Jane Staats was director of CGD’s Rethinking US Foreign Assistance Initiative, a one-stop shop for information and policy analysis on the mission, mandate and organizational structure of US foreign aid and US global development policy. Staats has written on aid effectiveness, the US role in the international financial institutions, and the nexus of US development policy, advocacy and Congress. She previously served as CGD’s director of policy outreach where she led the Center’s engagement with the development policy community, especially senior staff in the U.S. Congress, the US administration and development advocacy NGOs.
Staats previously worked at the US Government Accountability Office (GAO); at InterAction, a coalition of 160 US-based development and humanitarian NGOs; and with the ONE Campaign.
The death of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi after twenty-one years in charge raises fresh questions about the future of US foreign aid to the country – including all three of President Obama’s development initiatives – and the conundrum of focusing aid in countries whose leaders hang on to power for more than a decade. Could a new rule banning foreign aid to long-serving heads of state help?
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department have added FY2009-FY2011 budget data to the Foreign Assistance Dashboard. The dashboard aims to capture all US foreign aid spending from across twenty-some different US agencies. There's a long way to go before all the information is included, but the dashboard--and the latest updates from State and USAID plus previous contributions from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)--are important steps in the right direction. Can Congress or crowdsourcing help get to the finish line? The dashboard is designed to include all US foreign assistance data and break it down by country, sector, initiative and agency in a user-friendly format. While it's always a bit of a shock to realize this information doesn't already exist, the Foreign Assistance Dashboard is a welcome tool to improve foreign aid transparency. And the Obama administration deserves applause for getting the tool out there early, even if it's not yet complete (and hats off to the unsung heros who designed the website and entered the data).
If you’re in Washington today, you know it’s cloudy outside. But did you know there was an MCC board meeting, too? Probably not if, like me, you look to the Federal Register to confirm if and when the board plans to meet and what’s on the agenda.