A Leap Forward in Foreign Assistance Transparency & Accountability

Yesterday, the U.S. Government launched its Foreign Assistance Dashboard. There are no other words for it. This is a treasure trove for scholars, media, advocacy groups, contractors, and for the government itself. It is now possible to drill down into procurement data that simply hasn't been available to gain insight into how the U.S. Government procures and delivers its official development assistance (ODA) programs. For example, it is now possible to do a detailed market analysis by vendor, service offering, country, and other criteria that were previously only achievable through extensive sleuthing and a lot of guesswork. More important, these data offer an opportunity to better understand the structure of the U.S. ODA industry and the possible implications both for taxpayers and the beneficiaries of U.S. ODA. At first blush, the data seem to confirm what heuristic analysis suggests - it is an oligopoly. But there are many other insights that await to be uncovered, interpreted, and debated in these data. We applaud this initiative and hope other agencies and departments of the U.S.G. will soon follow suit.

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