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12/17/2010
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White House Launches Foreign Aid Dashboard

Like other federal dashboards, the new site provides transparency on how the U.S. government is investing money, this time overseas.

The White House has launched another online dashboard to provide more transparency on how the government spends its money, this time in overseas investments.

The Foreign Assistance Dashboard, launched by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, is aimed at making it easier for policymakers as well as the public to understand U.S. investments abroad. That's according to a White House blog post attributed to Jeremy Weinstein, director for Democracy on the National Security Staff, and Robynn Sturm advisor to the deputy director in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Modeled on similar federal spending dashboards such as USAspending.gov and the federal IT Dashboard, the site allows people to where U.S. foreign aid is dispersed around the globe, as well as gives them data-analysis tools to help them understand how the funds are appropriated.

The administration hopes that the site will help governments receiving funds to better plan and budget, as well enable donors to coordinate and target investments more effectively, according to the post. As with other federal dashboards, the government also hopes the public will hold agencies accountable for the money being spent to ensure it is not used wastefully.

The U.S. government provides more than $58 billion a year in foreign assistance through more than 20 agencies. Currently the site only includes money donated by U.S. states and USAID, but eventually it will provide information on foreign investments from all federal agencies providing assistance, according to the post.

The Foreign Assistance Dashboard breaks down spending into different categories -- such as by initiative, industry sector and organization -- so people have multiple ways to browse and search for spending.

The administration plans to add more capabilities to the site to show not only how much money is spent but also the impact the investments have, according to the post. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the agency at the helm of the administration's other online transparency efforts, will oversee how the site evolves.

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