Pentagon Escapes Serious Oversight of Foreign Military Aid

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Efforts to establish greater transparency and oversight of U.S. military aid to foreign countries have again come up short in Washington, DC.


Last year, congressional critics proposed legislation that would have subjected all foreign aid, including security assistance, to more monitoring and public reporting. But the Department of Defense objected to the plan, which never came up for a vote.


This year, reformers tried again with another bill. But instead of killing the measure, the Obama administration convinced lawmakers to water down the measure.


The legislation as currently drafted requires “the administration to develop standards for all aid, but allows for more flexibility on military aid—so long as the administration can show that a program already has sufficient oversight,” Cora Currier reported for ProPublica.


Resistance from the administration, including the Departments of State and Defense, is largely due to fear, a House staff member who worked on the 2012 bill told ProPublica. “[They] really are scared,” he said.  “They’re afraid of transparency about what the money is funding, where the weapons are going, who is getting training. Some reports come two or three years after the fact, and the data is not easily manipulable.”


Another requirement in the bill calls for the administration to publish foreign aid information on a country-by-country, program-by-program basis on the website,


However, the State Department can waive the transparency requirements on grounds of U.S. national interests or to protect the “health or security” of another country.


The U.S. spends about $25 billion a year on foreign military assistance. Such spending has increased dramatically since the September 11, 2001 attacks, by more than 220%.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Military Aid Gets A Partial Pass on Foreign Assistance Transparency Push (by Cora Currier, ProPublica)

Obama Administration Helped Kill Transparency Push on Military Aid (by Cora Currier, ProPublica)

Obama Administration Helped Kill Transparency Requirement for Foreign Military Aid (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

Pentagon Hires Contractors to Regulate Contractors (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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