This Week: Austerity and Development Finance - A Troubling Trend?

With the completion of the recent “lame duck” session this past week, the current 113th United States Congress gives way for the 114th Congress to take over business next month in the new year, but it wasn’t a quiet session by any means. The last-minute budget deal allowing the government to continue operations also included emergency funding for overseas aid operations including Ebola eradication efforts in Africa, among others. In a recent article, though, Devex brings up considerable concerns about the long-term funding picture beyond 2015 and if it’s sustainable in the face of new and growing needs. Included was a quote from U.S. Global Leadership Coalition President and CEO Liz Schrayer voicing her concern that the downward trend in funding could be risky in the face of new worldwide issues.

Speaking of the USGLC, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, along with Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), were honored at the US Global Leadership Coalition’s annual tribute dinner in Washington DC last week. In his remarks to the audience while introducing Mr. Shah, the soon-to-be chairman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) challenged the rest of the federal government to give as much of a return on its investment as USAID has. In light of the recent downward trend in funding, USAID’s performance could be a rallying point for future efforts to increase funding.

Last week also saw the launch of the formal launch of Open Knowledge’s 2014 Open Data Index, a comparison measurement of the open data practices of countries. Noting the slow progress of countries to enact open data policies, Open Knowledge founder Rufus Pollock mentioned the benefits of governments and how the “real progress on the ground is too often lagging behind the rhetoric.” Indeed a number of countries such as Mali, Sierra Leone, and Guinea were ranked at the bottom, but as there were countries that did not submit information or did not have sufficient information to measure, the possibility for even lower ranking countries is high. European countries once again took the majority of the top spots, including the United Kingdom ranking first, along with Denmark and France rounding up the top three.

Christopher Katella is the Communications Associate for AidData. Project Pulse: Project In Focus is on break this week.

Tags: open governmentopen dataUSGLCcongressfundingdevelopment financeUSAID