THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
SITE OF THE MONTH:FOREIGNASSISTANCE.gov
eat and user-friendly, this redesigned and much-improved website from
the State Department enables both policymakers and the public to better
understand the United States’ foreign aid budgeting and allocation process.
This tool for informing the general public about the development work of
foreign affairs agencies is espe-
cially important at a time when
most of the public mistakenly
believes that approximately a
quarter of the national budget
goes to foreign aid (in fact, it is
less than 1 percent!).
Foreign assistance experts
and novices alike can explore the
world of American foreign assistance by downloading comprehensive datas-
ets or by clicking on an interactive map to view statistics by country. The site
presents, in simple terms, how budgets are formulated for each agency, as well
as a primer on U.S. global development policy.
The tool also breaks down funding by agency and nine sectors: peace and
security, program management, economic development, health, democracy,
human rights and governance, humanitarian assistance, education and social
services, and the environment. You can find out how much is planned, obli-
gated and spent in any given year since 2005, showing which implementing
organizations received even the tiniest sums and for what purpose. There is
even a handy glossary of relevant
bureaucratic lingo, acronyms and
Though more than 20 differ-
ent agencies are involved in dis-
pensing foreign aid, the website
currently covers the expenses
and activities of 10, account-
ing for 98 percent of U.S. foreign assistance.
They are: USAID, Peace Corps, Department of State, U.S. African Develop-
ment Foundation, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Department of Agricul-
ture, Inter-American Foundation, Department of the Treasury, Department of
Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The United States became party to the International Aid Transparency
Initiative in 2011, and the website’s managers have been working to provide
U.S. data in an internationally comparable format ever since. This transparency
will not only benefit the public, but the participating agencies who will be bet-
ter able to track successes to be replicated and failures to be avoided, and to
coordinate to avoid overlap.
—Shannon Mizzi, Editorial Intern