Commitment Analysis: Foreign Assistance Transparency in the NAP : The Highlights and What’s Next

The following analysis is cross-posted with permission from Publish What You Fund.

Earlier this month, the U.S. released a new plan detailing the commitments and priorities for the next two years under the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

The updated National Action Plan is not only more ambitious than we anticipated; it also shows a significant improvement from an earlier draft version released at the OGP summit in London in October. The final plan contains three major areas of concentration in open government:

  1. Increasing public integrity, 
  2. Managing resources more effectively
  3. Improving public services.

We applaud the Administration for adding new commitments and more detail to those initiatives still in the implementation phase.

We are also pleased to see the White House address some our feedback and suggestions on the foreign assistance section of this updated plan. We hope that the consultation process will continue as the government begins to implement these commitments.

The foreign assistance transparency commitment, which was also featured in the original plan, includes a mention to “establish an automated and timely process for publishing foreign aid data to Foreign” and a list of specific agencies which will be added to the Dashboard in 2014. These include: USAID, the Department of State, HHS, USDA, DOD, Treasury, and other agencies. We look forward to working with these agencies in the publication of detailed “timely, and high quality foreign assistance data.”

The Busan Outcome Document, signed by the U.S. in 2013, calls all governments to fully implement the standard for publishing aid information by the end of 2015. This makes 2014 a key year for progress, implementation and delivery. The National Action Plan can serve as roadmap for the vision of the Administration on transparency and civic engagement, but it will require resources and leadership and of course a team to drive it forward and keep agencies on track.

An important addition to the plan is to “support and improve agency implementation of open government plans”. This is a unique opportunity for the agencies to take stock of their capacity to deliver high quality information, address their systems’ strengths and weaknesses, meet the deadlines of existing domestic policy and guidance, and finally, to allocate the necessary resources to reach these goals.

While the plan is not perfect and still lacks specific information about what agencies will deliver, we see this plan as a strong proposal with potential to deliver on long held promises of the Obama Administration.

Stay tuned for updates!

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