Text: H.R.2638 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)All Bill Information (Except Text)

There is one version of the bill.

Text available as:

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (07/10/2013)


113th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 2638

To direct the President to establish guidelines for United States foreign assistance, and for other purposes.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
July 10, 2013

Mr. Poe of Texas (for himself and Mr. Connolly) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs


A BILL

To direct the President to establish guidelines for United States foreign assistance, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2013”.

SEC. 2. Guidelines for United States foreign assistance.

(a) Purpose.—The purpose of this section is to evaluate the performance of United States foreign assistance and its contribution to policy, strategies, projects, program goals, and priorities undertaken by the United States, to foster and promote innovative programs to improve the effectiveness of United States foreign assistance, and to coordinate the monitoring and evaluation processes of Federal departments and agencies that administer United States foreign assistance.

(b) Establishment of guidelines.—Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall establish guidelines regarding the establishment of measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans that can be applied with reasonable consistency to United States foreign assistance. Such guidelines should be established according to best practices of monitoring and evaluation studies and analyses.

(c) Objectives of guidelines.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The guidelines established under this section shall provide direction to Federal departments and agencies that administer United States foreign assistance on how to develop the complete range of activities relating to 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.

(2) OBJECTIVES.—Specifically, the guidelines shall provide direction on how to achieve the following objectives for monitoring and evaluation of programs:

(A) Building measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation into program design, to be tracked against an established baseline at the outset, including the provision of sufficient program resources to conduct monitoring and evaluation.

(B) Disseminating guidelines for the development and implementation of monitoring and evaluation programs to all personnel, especially in the field, who are responsible for the design, implementation, and management of United States foreign assistance programs.

(C) Developing a clearinghouse capacity for the collection and dissemination of knowledge and lessons learned that serve as benchmarks to guide future programs for United States development professionals, implementing partners, the international aid community, and aid recipient governments, and as a repository of knowledge on lessons learned.

(D) Distributing evaluation reports internally and making the reports available online to the public. In addition, providing a summary of each evaluation, including a description of the evaluation methodology, and key findings and recommendations made in the evaluation, to the public online in a fully searchable form, within 90 days after the completion of the evaluation. Any material made available online under this subparagraph may not include any classified or proprietary information of nongovernmental organizations, contractors, or private sector entities.

(E) Establishing annual monitoring and evaluation agendas and objectives.

(F) Applying rigorous monitoring and evaluation methodologies to focus on learning, accountability, and policymaking, choosing from among a wide variety of qualitative, quantitative, summative, and formative methods common in the field of social scientific inquiry, including impact evaluations, a simple grading system providing a clear evaluation of outcomes, and analysis of project logic that includes inputs, activities, outputs, intermediate outcomes, and end outcomes.

(G) Partnering with the academic community, implementing partners, and national and international institutions that have expertise in monitoring and evaluation and analysis when such partnerships will provide needed expertise or will significantly improve the evaluation and analysis.

(H) Developing and implementing a training plan for appropriate aid personnel on the proper conduct of monitoring and evaluation programs.

(I) Providing relevant and useful evaluation questions that meet the needs of decision makers, an appropriate and feasible design for the evaluation questions, and criteria that permit objective assessment and valid conclusions on the evaluation questions.

(J) Ensuring sufficient, credible, and reliable measures and data in the evaluation of the effectiveness of foreign assistance programs, including an assessment of assumptions and limitations made in such evaluation.

(K) Ensuring that generally accepted standards such as independence, professional judgment, competence, and quality control and assurance are followed in the monitoring and evaluation of programs.

(d) Implementation of Guidelines.—Beginning not later than one year after the date on which the President establishes the guidelines under this section, the head of each Federal department or agency that administers United States foreign assistance shall administer the United States foreign assistance in accordance with the guidelines.

(e) Presidential report.—Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report that contains a detailed description of the guidelines that have been developed on measurable goals, performance metrics, and monitoring and evaluation plans for United States foreign assistance established under this section. The report shall be submitted in unclassified form to the maximum extent possible, but may include a classified annex.

(f) Implementation not required for certain security sector assistance.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of State shall not be required to administer any United States foreign assistance program relating to United States security sector assistance in accordance with the guidelines established under this section if the Secretary of State makes a determination that the administration of such program in accordance with the guidelines would be detrimental to the national interests of the United States.

(2) BRIEFINGS OR REPORT.—The Secretary of State shall provide briefings or submit a written report to the appropriate congressional committees explaining any determination made under paragraph (1). Any such report may be submitted to the appropriate congressional committees in classified form.

(g) Comptroller General reports.—The Comptroller General of the United States shall—

(1) not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report that contains an analysis of the actions that the major Federal departments and agencies that administer United States foreign assistance have taken to ensure that the evaluation of United States foreign assistance is planned, conducted, and utilized effectively;

(2) not later than 3 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report that contains an analysis of—

(A) the guidelines established pursuant to subsection (b); and

(B) the implementation of the guidelines by the major Federal departments and agencies that administer United States foreign assistance; and

(3) not later than 5 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, and biennially thereafter for 8 years, submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report that contains an analysis of the implementation of the guidelines by the major Federal departments and agencies that administer United States foreign assistance.

(h) Evaluation defined.—In this section, the term “evaluation” means, with respect to a United States foreign assistance program, the systematic collection and analysis of information about the characteristics and outcomes of the program and projects under the program as a basis for judgments, to improve effectiveness, and to inform decisions about current and future programming.

SEC. 3. Revision to Internet website to make publicly available comprehensive, timely, comparable, and accessible information on United States foreign assistance programs.

(a) Revision; information sharing and updates; feedback mechanism.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall direct the Secretary of State to revise the Department of State’s Internet website “ForeignAssistance.gov” to make publicly available in unclassified form comprehensive, timely, comparable, and accessible information on United States foreign assistance.

(2) INFORMATION SHARING AND UPDATES.—

(A) INFORMATION SHARING.—The head of each Federal department or agency that administers United States foreign assistance shall, not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every 90 days thereafter, provide to the Secretary of State such information with respect to the United States foreign assistance programs carried out by such Federal department or agency.

(B) UPDATES.—The Secretary of State shall publish not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act and thereafter update on a quarterly basis on the Internet website the information provided under subparagraph (A).

(3) FEEDBACK MECHANISM.—The website described in paragraph (1) shall include a feedback mechanism through which individuals are able to provide comments on any United States foreign assistance program.

(b) Matters To be included.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The information described in subsection (a)(1) shall be published on a detailed program-by-program basis and country-by-country basis.

(2) TYPES OF INFORMATION.—To ensure transparency, accountability, and effectiveness of United States foreign assistance, such information shall include country assistance strategies, annual budget documents, congressional budget justifications, obligations, expenditures, and reports and evaluations, including those developed pursuant to the guidelines established under section 2, for United States foreign assistance programs and projects under such programs. Each type of information described in this paragraph shall be published or updated on the Internet website not later than 90 days after the date on which the information is issued.

(3) REPORT IN LIEU OF INCLUSION.—If—

(A) the head of a Federal department or agency makes a determination that the inclusion of a required item of information on the Internet website under subsection (a)(1) would jeopardize the health or security of an implementing partner or program beneficiary, or

(B) the Secretary of State makes a determination that the inclusion of a required item of information on the Internet website under subsection (a)(1) would be detrimental to the national interests of the United States,

then the head of such Federal department or agency or the Secretary of State, as the case may be, shall provide briefings to the appropriate congressional committees on the item of information or submit to the appropriate congressional committees the item of information in a written report in lieu of it being included on the Internet website, along with the reasons for it not being included on the Internet website. Any such item of information may be submitted to the appropriate congressional committees in classified form.

(c) Scope of information.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Internet website shall contain the information described in subsection (b) as follows:

(A) For fiscal year 2013, the information relating to such fiscal year and each of the immediately preceding 2 fiscal years.

(B) For fiscal year 2014, the information relating to such fiscal year and each of the immediately preceding 3 fiscal years.

(C) For fiscal year 2015, the information relating to such fiscal year and each of the immediately preceding 4 fiscal years.

(D) For fiscal year 2016 and each fiscal year thereafter, the information relating to such fiscal year and each of the immediately preceding 5 fiscal years.

(2) OLDER INFORMATION.—For fiscal year 2017 and each fiscal year thereafter, the Internet website shall also contain a link to a searchable database available to the public containing information described in subsection (b) relating to fiscal years prior to the immediately preceding 5 fiscal years but subsequent to fiscal year 2010.

SEC. 4. Congressional briefings if requirements of section 3 are not met.

If the information described in section 3(b) with respect to a United States foreign assistance program is not provided as required under section 3, then the head of the relevant Federal department or agency shall provide briefings to the appropriate congressional committees, along with a detailed explanation of why the requirements for publication on the Internet have not been met and when they will be met, with respect to each month for which such information is not published on the Internet.

SEC. 5. Offset.

Of the amounts authorized to be appropriated for United States foreign assistance programs of a Federal department or agency that administers such programs for a fiscal year, up to 5 percent of such amounts are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act with respect to such programs for such fiscal year.

SEC. 6. Definitions.

In this Act:

(1) APPROPRIATE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES.—The term “appropriate congressional committees” means—

(A) the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives; and

(B) the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate.

(2) UNITED STATES FOREIGN ASSISTANCE.—The term “United States foreign assistance” means any tangible or intangible item provided by gift, loan, sale, credit, guaranty, or other means by any agency of the United States Government to a foreign country, including any training, service, or technical advice, any item of real, personal, or mixed property, any agricultural commodity, United States dollars, and any currencies of any foreign country which are owned by the United States Government.

(3) UNITED STATES SECURITY SECTOR ASSISTANCE.—The term “United States security sector assistance”—

(A) means policies, programs, and activities that the United States Government employs to engage with foreign partners in the use of force to protect both the foreign state and its citizens at home or abroad, maintain international peace and security, and to enforce the law and provide oversight of security institutions and forces; and

(B) includes helping foreign partners build and sustain the capacity and effectiveness of institutions to provide security, safety, and justice for their people and to contribute to efforts that address common security challenges.