2016: A Fresh Start (and a Fresh Look) for AidData

Dear Friends:

I am writing to share two exciting pieces of news to kick off the year.

When we launched a new-and-improved version of the AidData.org website in the fall of 2013, our goal was relatively simple: to provide users with easier access to our data offerings and better tools to visualize these data.  

Since then, AidData has undergone a metamorphosis and the scope of our work has rapidly expanded. We have intensified our direct engagement with bilateral and multilateral institutions -- such as the World Bank, USAID, and the German Development Bank (KFW) -- to improve the way that data are collected and programs are evaluated. We have deployed 52 AidData Fellows to 23 line ministries, civil society organizations, think tanks, and university labs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We have pioneered a new generation of aid effectiveness research -- in partnership with a network of 120 researchers  at more than 50 universities and think tanks around the world -- that relies on sub-nationally georeferenced data on development investments and outcomes. And we have launched an ambitious effort to design and execute lab, lab-in-the-field, and field experiments that demonstrate whether, when, and how transparency and accountability initiatives improve decision-making and development outcomes.

We’ve also established a thriving Policy Analysis team that oversees our elite survey practice, and produces influential publications, such as the Listening to Leaders report and Marketplace of Ideas for Policy Change report. And we’ve created a more muscular Data and Technology team that is busy working behind the scenes to build a public-facing spatial data repository, track non-Western sources of development finance (including China, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar), and improve the usability and interoperability of our data products.

With all of these advances forward, we need to keep pace and provide a more intuitive, user-friendly website.

Therefore, in response to demand and to bring our website into closer alignment with our day-to-day work, today we’re launching a redesigned and re-organised AidData.org. We hope you’ll find it easier to navigate. Our goal is to shine a spotlight on our latest data offerings and analytical products. We also want to better highlight our researchers and staff who are conducting cutting-edge work, so among other new features you’ll see a new section called “AidData Experts” that profiles different members of our team.

At the same time that we debut our new-and-improved website, we also want to inform you of a recent change to our governance structure that has been made to support AidData’s continued growth and success. Whereas AidData previously functioned as a partnership between William and Mary, Brigham Young University, and Development Gateway, the founding institutional members of the partnership have determined that going forward AidData will function as a stand-alone development research and innovation lab at the College of William and Mary. William & Mary will provide a single institutional home and legal identity for AidData, and a senior leadership team based at William & Mary will manage AidData’s day-to-day activities.

AidData’s mission — to make development finance more transparent, accountable, and effective — will remain unchanged. We will continue to pursue our mission by engaging in activities that make it possible to more effectively track, target, coordinate, and evaluate development finance.

AidData will also maintain strong working relationships with Development Gateway and Brigham Young University going forward, and these organizations will continue to support and contribute to AidData’s work, including as members of the AidData Center for Development Policy. This purpose of this new governance arrangement is to give AidData the ownership and management structure it needs to thrive while allowing Development Gateway and Brigham Young University to focus their energies on their core competencies and interests.

We’re excited about both of these developments. If you have thoughts or questions, I would love to hear from you.

Brad Parks
Executive Director, AidData