[Senate Report 112-233]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

                                                       Calendar No. 538
112th Congress                                                   Report
 2d Session                                                     112-233


                      FOREIGN AID TRANSPARENCY AND
                       ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 2012


               November 13, 2012.--Ordered to be printed

          Mr. Kerry, from the Committee on Foreign Relations,
                        submitted the following


                         [To accompany S. 3310]

    The Committee on Foreign Relations, having had under 
consideration an amendment in the nature of a substitute to S. 
3310, to direct the President to establish guidelines for 
United States foreign assistance, and for other purposes, 
reports favorably thereon, and recommends that the bill do 



  I. Purpose..........................................................1
 II. Committee Action.................................................1
III. Discussion.......................................................1
 IV. Cost Estimate....................................................5
  V. Evaluation of Regulatory Impact..................................5
 VI. Changes in Existing Law..........................................5

                               I. PURPOSE

    The purpose of the Foreign Aid Transparency and 
Accountability Act of 2012 is to evaluate the performance of 
United States foreign assistance and its contribution to 
policy, strategies, projects, program goals, and priorities 
undertaken by the Federal Government, to foster and promote 
innovative programs to improve effectiveness, and to coordinate 
the monitoring and evaluation process of Federal departments 
and agencies that administer foreign assistance.

                          II. COMMITTEE ACTION

    S. 3310 was introduced on June 19, 2012, by Senator Lugar. 
On September 19, 2012, the committee considered an amendment in 
the nature of a substitute to S. 3310 and ordered S. 3310, as 
amended, reported by voice vote.

                            III. DISCUSSION

    Originally enacted in 1961, the Foreign Assistance Act 
(FAA) set in motion the parameters under which the United 
States provides foreign assistance to developing nations. Since 
then, the law has been reauthorized several times with the end 
result that U.S. foreign assistance today is conducted through 
largely disparate programs in more than 20 Federal agencies 
which are carrying out diverse foreign assistance activities 
pursuant to administration and congressional priorities. Some 
programs are likely more effective than others, but both 
Congress and the executive branch have had no uniform way to 
measure this aid effectiveness. Nor has there been a clear and 
transparent way of explaining how much money is spent on 
foreign assistance in each country and for what purposes the 
money is being spent.
    In 2004 Congress created the Helping to Enhance the 
Livelihood of People Around the World Commission (the ``HELP 
Commission''). Established as an independent, bipartisan 
commission, its purpose was to evaluate the efficiency and 
effectiveness of U.S. foreign assistance. In taking on this 
task, members of the Commission developed a mission statement 
in which they committed to ``develop and deliver actionable 
proposals to the President, Secretary of State and Congress to 
enhance and leverage the efficiency and effectiveness of U.S. 
foreign assistance programs to reduce poverty through sustained 
economic growth and self-sufficiency.'' Further, Commission 
members also agreed to ``communicate the need for change and 
will make bold recommendations for mechanisms, structures, and 
incentives which will create definable, achievable, and 
measurable outcomes that empower recipients and meet U.S. 
national security and foreign policy goals and objectives.''
    Among its many observations regarding U.S. foreign 
assistance, the Commission addressed the lack of an effective 
system to monitor and evaluate programs, noting ``the systems 
our government uses to evaluate development and humanitarian 
assistance programs are either in disarray or do not exist.''
    In 2009 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee used many of 
the recommendations of the HELP Commission to draft the Foreign 
Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act of 2009 
(FARAA). As the report accompanying the bipartisan legislation 
(111-122) explains, the bill resulted from more than 2 years of 
comprehensive research by committee staff that included 
``consultations and deliberations with country missions, 
country team officials, senior government officials, key NGO, 
civil society, private sector, academic and think-tank 
stakeholders . . . '' The committee approved the legislation in 
November 2009, but it was not considered by the full Senate. 
Among its key priority areas, the legislation provided a 
framework for the creation of sound systems to rebuild the 
internal capacity of the U.S. Agency for International 
Development (USAID) ``to monitor, evaluate, and improve the 
design of its programs and activities.'' Additionally, it 
sought to increase accountability and transparency of U.S. 
foreign assistance programs across all government departments 
and agencies.
    Despite the fact that FARAA was never signed into law, the 
State Department and the U.S. Agency for International 
Development, through the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development 
Review (QDDR) process, drew upon key components from the 
legislation, namely: (1) the need to establish monitoring and 
evaluation of foreign assistance programs; and (2) the need to 
explain U.S. assistance programs in a transparent manner. In 
February 2011, USAID's new Office of Policy, Planning and 
Learning announced (as the agency's first policy), an agency 
policy on Monitoring and Evaluation. The State Department 
followed with its own Program Evaluation Policy in February 
    Taking the lead among Federal agencies in publicly 
presenting U.S. foreign assistance funding, in 2011 the State 
Department and USAID launched an Internet Web site, the 
``Foreign Assistance Dashboard.'' (Available at 
www.foreignassistance.gov.) While the Dashboard will eventually 
include all agencies of government engaged in the distribution 
of foreign assistance, few agencies currently display this 
information, and the committee has been disappointed with the 
slow implementation of this important fiscal transparency tool.
    Internationally, both foreign aid donor and recipient 
countries have begun working to bring improved effectiveness of 
that aid through agreements including the Paris Declaration of 
2005 and the 2008 Accra Agenda for Action. Through the 
International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), donor 
countries have committed to publicly disclosing their aid, its 
purposes and its effectiveness on a timely basis. In November 
2011, Secretary of State Clinton committed the United States as 
a signatory to the IATI.
    While the State Department and USAID have made progress in 
both setting new standards for monitoring and evaluating the 
foreign assistance they administer and in publicly displaying 
its distribution and purpose through the Dashboard, the 
committee believes that Congress should establish a statutory 
framework for these important policy efforts. The committee is 
especially intent on working with the executive branch under 
the direction of the President to establish uniform standards 
in the monitoring and evaluation of foreign assistance as 
numerous agencies across government now also administer foreign 
assistance. Further, it is through an effective monitoring and 
evaluation process that Congress and the executive branch may 
review the demonstrated accomplishments or shortcomings of 
United States foreign assistance programs and, if need be, make 
appropriate adjustments to them in a timely manner. Such action 
has the enhanced benefit of bringing increased fiscal integrity 
to U.S. foreign assistance programs.
    Further, the committee believes it is important to 
establish firm time lines for the completion of the Foreign 
Assistance Dashboard in order to more effectively evaluate U.S. 
foreign assistance programs. During this time of significant 
pressure on the Federal budget and our burgeoning national 
debt, it is critical that the American public, as well as 
foreign assistance recipient countries, are able to know where 
funds flow, for what purposes and to what end.

Section 2--Guidelines for United States Foreign Assistance Programs

    Section 2(a) describes the purpose for establishing 
guidelines for United States foreign assistance programs.
    Section 2(b) requires that not later than one year after 
the date of the enactment of this Act the President shall 
establish uniform guidelines regarding the establishment of 
measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and 
evaluation plans that can be applied on a uniform basis to 
United States foreign assistance.
    Section 2(c) describes the objectives of the guidelines to 
be established by the President for United States foreign 
assistance including the monitoring of resources, the 
evaluation of projects, the evaluation of program impacts, and 
analysis that is necessary for the identification of findings, 
generalizations that can be derived from those findings and 
their applicability to proposed project and program design. It 
also describes the specific objectives for how the President 
shall provide direction for monitory and evaluation programs.
    Section 2(d) requires the head of each Federal department 
or agency that administers foreign assistance to administer 
that assistance in accordance with the newly established 
guidelines beginning not later than one year after the date on 
which the President has established the guidelines under 
subsection (b).
    Section 2(e) requires the President to submit a report to 
Congress not later than one year after the date of enactment of 
this Act. The report should contain a detailed description of 
the guidelines that have been developed on the measurable 
goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans 
for United States foreign assistance programs.
    Section 2(f) defines the term evaluation.

 Section 3--Internet Web Site to Make Publicly Available Comprehensive, 
        Timely, Comparable, and Accessible Information on United States 
        Foreign Assistance Programs

    Section 3(a) requires the President to direct the Secretary 
of State to establish and maintain an Internet website for the 
purpose of making information regarding U.S. foreign assistance 
programs publicly available. It further requires that the head 
of each Federal agency administering foreign assistance publish 
this information within three years of enactment of this 
legislation and that the information be updated on a quarterly 
    Section 3(b) describes the foreign assistance information 
that must be included on the Internet webpage. It includes 
details on a program-by-program and country basis, country 
assistance strategies, annual budget documents, congressional 
budget justifications, obligations, expenditures, and reports 
and evaluations for U.S. foreign assistance programs. In the 
event that a Federal department or agency determines that 
materials for publication may jeopardize the health or security 
of an implementing partner or would have a detrimental impact 
on U.S. national interests, that department or agency may 
instead provide briefings to Congress on the foreign assistance 
program in lieu of posting the information on the Internet.
    Section 3(c) provides a detailed description of the scope 
of the material to be included on the Internet website so that 
the website will include three years of information with the 
posting of fiscal year 2013 material and information on the 
prior two fiscal years. With each new year of information 
posted, there will be a more comprehensive history of foreign 
assistance funding so that at the time of the posting of the 
fiscal year 2016 information, the Internet website will include 
that year and the immediate prior five fiscal years. Beginning 
with the posting of fiscal year 2017 information, any 
information older than the prior five fiscal years must remain 
available in a searchable database.
    Section 3(d) requires that all information published on the 
Internet website must be in an unclassified form. Should any of 
the information required to be published be classified, that 
information may instead be submitted to Congress in classified 
form. The section requires, however, that information on a 
classified topic shall still be published on the Internet 
website in an unclassified summary form unless the head of the 
Federal department or agency, in consultation with appropriate 
congressional committees, determines this publication would 
have a detrimental effect on national security.
    Section 4 requires that any cost of implementation of this 
statute be offset through the elimination of initiatives, 
positions, and programs within a Federal department or agency 
administering foreign assistance, as determined by the 
Secretary of State and the head of each Federal department or 
agency in consultation with the appropriate congressional 
committees. It further prohibits the net increase in any 
personnel to carry out the provisions of the Act. This section 
also requires a report to Congress within 90 days of enactment 
of this Act on the elimination of programs or initiatives 
within the Department of State or other Federal department or 
agency to ensure the offset of costs for compliance with the 
    Section 5(1) defines appropriate congressional committees 
as the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on 
Appropriations of the Senate and the Committee on Foreign 
Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of 
    Section 5(2) defines the term U.S. foreign assistance as 
having the meaning given the term ``foreign assistance'' in 
section 634(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 
2394 (b)).

                           IV. COST ESTIMATE

    Rule XXVI, paragraph 11(a) of the Standing Rules of the 
Senate requires that committee reports on bills or joint 
resolutions contain a cost estimate for such legislation. To 
date, the committee has not received the Congressional Budget 
Office cost estimate for S. 3310.


    Pursuant to Rule XXVI, paragraph 11(b) of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, the committee has determined that there is 
no regulatory impact as a result of this legislation.

                      VI. CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    In compliance with Rule XXVI, paragraph 12 of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, the committee has determined that there 
are no changes to existing laws as a result of this bill.