When the United States gives money to foreign countries for some stated purpose, who checks to see that the money we give them actually goes to where it was intended? Also does this supposed audit of U.S. aid ever get published in any documents accessible to the general public?
First what are the types of foreign aid, otherwise known as Official Development Assistance:
- Bilateral aid – when the capital flows from a developed nation to a developing nation
- Multilateral aid – when the capital flows to developing nations from a world agency such as the World Bank
- Military aid/humanitarian aid-security and narcotics aid, emergency assistance in response to natural disasters, food aid.
How does the US fund these types of foreign aid: 20 US government agencies administered US foreign assistance activities through bilateral and multilateral channels to over 150 countries with greater sums going to wealthier developing nations. US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department manage the bulk of assistance programs. The Department of Defense and the US Department of Agriculture manage a large number of programs as well.
Who is responsible for oversight? Each individual agency is responsible for the oversight of its program. Foreign aid is not a department of the federal government, so there is no one in charge of overseeing its efficiency as a unique program or goal.
How should the public get information how well foreign aid is operating over-all The Center for Global Development is working on ground breaking projects to improve aid effectiveness. They have created an aid quality scale, an aid dashboard, and an interactive aid map to prevent redundancy of programs. Otherwise, at this time, the best thing to do is to research programs at the largest foreign aid providers, such as USAID and the World Bank. Each will have public documents. For example, here is information on recent audits by the Inspector General at USAID.