Understanding the Data

Foreign assistance is aid given by the United States to other countries to support global peace, security, and development efforts, as well as to provide humanitarian relief during times of crisis. The U.S. government provides foreign assistance because it is strategically, economically, and morally imperative for the United States and vital to U.S. national security.

ForeignAssistance.gov captures both budgetary and financial information related to U.S. foreign assistance. These two types of data capture foreign assistance at different points in the financial lifecycle. Click on each box to learn more.

BUDGETARY DATA


Budgetary data represents funds that are set aside to be spent by the U.S. government and its implementing partners in the future. Budgetary data is composed of request data – funds requested by U.S. government agencies – and appropriation data – funds appropriated by Congress to U.S. government agencies through spending bills signed into law. This data is reported to ForeignAssistance.gov on an annual basis.

FINANCIAL DATA


Financial data includes both obligated data – funds the U.S. government decides can be mobilized – and spent data – funds the U.S. government has mobilized to purchase goods and services. U.S. government agencies report financial transaction data to ForeignAssistance.gov from their accounting systems on a quarterly basis. The fiscal years associated with obligated and spent transaction data on ForeignAssistance.gov represent the years in which those transactions took place. Transaction data is the most granular form of financial data. Transaction data represents every individual financial record in an agency’s accounting system for program work with implementing partners and administrative expenses.

Publishing Foreign Assistance Data

ForeignAssistance.gov collects and posts data directly from the U.S. government agencies managing foreign assistance programs, in accordance with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Bulletin 12-01 and the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2016 (FATAA). Operating under authorities delegated from the Secretary of State, the Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources at the Department of State manages ForeignAssistance.gov on behalf of the U.S. government.

  • 1st

    collecting

    ForeignAssistance.gov collects budget planning data at different points in the federal budget cycle. Agencies report request data once they have completed their annual Congressional Budget Justifications to Congress. They provide appropriation data once they have received their annual appropriation from Congress and, if applicable, have tagged those funds to categories and countries.

    ForeignAssistance.gov collects financial (obligated and spent) data quarterly. Each agency populates its data in a data ingest template that is standardized across all reporting agencies. This promotes data consistency across the U.S. government. The fields in the ingest template correspond to the information required by FATAA, OMB Bulletin 12-01, and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).

  • 2nd

    redacting

    As outlined in OMB Bulletin 12-01, a core principle of ForeignAssistance.gov and U.S. assistance transparency policy is a “presumption in favor of openness.” As such, reporting agencies may limit the disclosure of data only if such information jeopardizes the priorities or interests of the U.S. government or the health and safety of its implementing partners, as enumerated under section 4 of FATAA. The reporting agencies send ForeignAssistance.gov data that has already been reviewed and redacted to protect against potential harm.
  • 3rd

    cleaning

    The Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources reviews the data submitted by the agencies. The office conducts a quality assessment on all submissions before the data is posted publicly. If, during this review, general data entry errors or missing data fields are found, the office will contact the reporting agency to clarify these errors. The reporting agency, in consultation with the Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources, will rectify any reporting errors and reapprove the data for submission. Where fields are low quality or missing and cannot be immediately addressed, with approval from the agency, ForeignAssistance.gov will publish the existing data, work with the agency to remedy the gaps and quality challenges, and publish a refreshed file reflecting data improvements.

    The data published on ForeignAssistance.gov is collected, reported, verified, and owned by each reporting agency. Agencies are the primary source for the data. The Department of State will not edit or modify another agency’s data without express permission or approval from that agency.

  • 4th

    publishing

    The Office of U.S. Foreign Assistance Resources publishes data that has been collected, redacted, and cleaned to ForeignAssistance.gov in biweekly cycles. Release Notes catalogue data and site updates for users.

Data Availability

The following agencies are required to report budget data on an annual basis and financial data on a quarterly basis to comply with the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2016 (FATAA) and OMB Bulletin 12-01. Each agency is required by FATAA to report to ForeignAssistance.gov from FY 2015 onward. Some agencies have reported data prior to FY 2015.

The chart below provides the data status for every agency by quarter from FY 2015 onward. ForeignAssistance.gov is updated on a biweekly basis with new data as it is reported by agencies. Release Notes catalogue data and site updates for users.

To explore each portfolio in greater detail, jump to our Data Availability Search.

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