Now Available: Obama Foreign Aid Order Obtained in Groundbreaking Case

Today, the Center for Effective Government is releasing the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, which it obtained through a path-setting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. President Obama originally issued the order in September 2010. Our story exemplifies a situation where disclosure eventually prevailed but with more delay and hassle than should be the case under the law.

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Judge Rules Against "Secret Law" in Center for Effective Government Lawsuit

A federal judge ruled yesterday in favor of the Center for Effective Government, ordering the federal government to release documents we requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Specifically, the court ordered the government to disclose the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, a 2010 document also known as PPD-6.

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Scientific Integrity Policies Moving Forward, But Still Little Sunlight

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced in a blog post today that nearly all the agencies participating in the development of scientific integrity policies had submitted draft policies to OSTP. The deadline for agencies to do so was last week. The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are behind schedule but are expected to submit their policies soon.

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Contractors Do Bad Things, Uncle Sam Has to Sit on His Hands

I like your ski goggles, guy.

A batch of documents recently obtained by the Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request exposes "previously undisclosed offenses committed by more than 200 contract employees in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2004 and 2008." Many of these offenses were quite egregious, and yet it was often only the employee disciplined, while the government let the offending company off the hook. A recent New York Times article reveals why: many of these companies are too big to ban.

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Government Launches New Tool to Improve Transparency of Foreign Aid Spending

Today, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, a new tool to shed light on U.S. foreign aid spending.

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U.S. Scores Poorly on Transparency of Foreign Aid Spending

A new comparative study of development aid finds the U.S. among the least transparent of the world's donors.

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Bad Idea: Stand up a Private Army in Iraq to Take the Place of Departing U.S. Forces

Oh boy, this could get ugly

The pullout of the final U.S. combat brigade from Iraq last week was the penultimate step in the military's withdrawal from the country at the end of 2011. At that time, the State Department, utilizing a large number of private security contractors (PSC), will take responsibility for performing many of the tasks the Department of Defense (DOD) has been carrying out. Problem is, State isn't very good at overseeing contractors.

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You Can't Say Congress Isn't Listening to the American People...

'Merican Dollars Should Stay in Merica'

When an Economist/YouGov poll came out early last month, several economics and political bloggers re-highlighted the fact that Americans, by a large majority, favor lower government spending over increased taxes in order to balance the budget, but that when asked to make hard choices refuse to cut any specific programs except for low-hanging fruit like foreign aid. According to a recent Congressional Quarterly article (subscription), it seems that members of Congress may answer the average American's wish during this year's budget process.

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Legislators Reintroduce Bill to End Government's Use of Security Contractors

A Private Security Contractor in Afghanistan

Yesterday morning, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) held a press conference to announce the reintroduction of legislation to phase out the government's use of private security contractors in war zones. The Stop Outsourcing Security Act, which Schakowsky and Sanders originally introduced in 2007, seeks to prevent contractors in war zones from performing "mission critical or emergency essential functions," including security, military and police training, interrogation, and intelligence.

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Iraq Reconstruction IG Nabs a Couple Bad Guys

U.S. Soldiers in Iraq

The office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) released its 24th quarterly report on Saturday. If you haven't been paying attention to what's been going on in Iraq recently, it's worth a read. Besides providing observations on what's happening in the country and detailing the sources and uses of reconstruction funds, the inspector general's report also describes their recent oversight activities and successes in rooting out corruption within government contracting overseas.

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