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To: President-Elect Obama Cc: John Podesta, Valerie Jarrett, and Pete Rouse, Transition Team co-chairs Gayle Smith and Aaron Williams, Foreign Assistance Transition Team leads Natasha Bilimoria, Department of State Transition Team member
From: Nandini Oomman, Director, HIV/AIDS Monitor, Center for Global Development
RE: Releasing PEPFAR data to improve effectiveness of HIV/AIDS spending
The Opportunity: U.S. efforts to combat the global HIV/AIDS epidemic stand out as a success story, but allocation of future spending, including the $48 billion PEPFAR reauthorization, remains a major challenge. Critical decisions, such as balancing prevention and treatment, or how to best allocate grants between international and local recipients, will impact program effectiveness. Yet, at present there is little access to expenditure data to help make or justify such decisions.
U.S. spending for HIV/AIDS is potentially a highly effective tool for meeting the objectives of the Obama-Biden Plan for Foreign Policy—provided that it meets high standards of transparency and effectiveness. Further, the Obama-Biden Agenda on Ethics prioritizes spending taxpayer money wisely and bringing “Americans back in to their government.”
The Action: The next administration should publish existing PEPFAR official data on obligations to prime partners, sub-partners, and program areas to improve transparency and accountability.
Option 1: Release funding and program data for the last five fiscal years from the Country Operational Plan and Reporting System (COPRS) database on the PEPFAR.gov website in January and share data on an ongoing basis.
Pro: Permits immediate analysis of program cost-effectiveness and impact
Pro: Allows lessons to be quickly applied to next phase of PEPFAR
Pro: Early feedback from informed stakeholders can speed data cleaning
Con: Less time to organize data before public release
Option 2: Publicly commit to release data within six months of inauguration.
Pro: Allows time for data preparation and plan for future data release
Con: Delays the start of urgently needed analysis of program effectiveness
Con: Missed opportunity to show commitment or signal new direction