The U.S. is one of the largest donors globally for foreign assistance. In an effort to bring transparency and accountability to U.S. Foreign Assistance, the Department of State developed the website ForeignAssistance.gov (FA.gov) in 2010. FA.gov makes it possible for anyone to explore how the U.S. government invests its foreign assistance funds in countries around the world through a single website in an accessible and machine-readable format. The website includes detailed foreign assistance financial, award, and performance data from agencies across the U.S. government that implement foreign assistance activities. It provides information on U.S. efforts on issues such as health, peace and security, democracy, environment, and humanitarian/emergency assistance. Users can explore the data in multiple ways, through an interactive map, pre-defined charts and graphs, downloadable datasets, and XML files prepared in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).
Definition of Problem
It is a Department priority to increase awareness of FA.gov, and to enhance and expand its usability and impact, including by developing cases studies on how to most effectively use the data contained on this site. We are looking to find ways to appeal to more diverse stakeholders domestically and abroad, drive them to the site, and encourage them to use the data by demonstrating its value. We are looking to develop an electronic handbook for outreach to various audiences that includes (in priority order) host country government, U.S. federal agencies, civil society organizations, journalists, academic researchers/ university students, donor organizations, and Congress.
Initial Steps and Options
The DAT should plan to analyze the ForeignAssistance.gov website and dataset. The team should develop ideas for using the data to identify trends and explore effective ways for people to engage with the data.
We would be particularly interested in exploring specific country case studies for use of the electronic handbook from different regions of the world, and have initially identified three countries -- Haiti, Uganda, and Bangladesh, where we might usefully develop, prototype and use the electronic handbook.
Definition of Success
We are enthusiastic to see models and suggestions presented in an electronic handbook (with case studies from Haiti, Uganda and Bangladesh) that show how FA.gov data can be most successfully used. This might be combined or analyzed with other datasets and tools in ways to tell a compelling and engaging story on Foreign Assistance or US Diplomacy. It would also be helpful to identify key communications messages to appeal to the identified stakeholders, and develop recommendations to make FA.gov more useful to them.
The Managing Director leading U.S. foreign assistance transparency efforts may be participating as a panelist in the Open Government Partnership Summit in Paris in December 2016. If the DAT project is successful, he would like to share some of the results of the DAT as a way to demonstrate U.S.-led efforts to improving foreign assistance data uptake among diverse stakeholders around the world.
Development Advisory Team