This week: Leading by example

How can we continue to set the bar higher for international aid transparency? Lead by example. Here are a few recent examples of how some agencies and governments are beginning to raise the bar.

The African Development Bank published its project-level data to the International Aid Transparency Initiative last week, making it the first multilateral development bank and second donor (after the UNOPS) to publish geocoding on all of its ongoing activities in IATI format. An endorser of the Open Aid Partnership, AfDB continues to make itself a leader within the donor community with this crucial step towards increased transparency.

The United Kingdom released the first draft of their National Action Plan on open data and transparency for public review on June 27. The draft plan, “From Open Data to Open Government,” outlines the UK’s plans to improve accountability and publicly release data on a range of areas including its international aid flows in the next few years. Committed to the mission of transparency, the document is now available online for public comment. The final plan will be submitted to the international Open Government Partnership, an organization that brings together 59 national governments and civil society organizations, in October.

The release of the UK’s National Action Plan comes only a few weeks after G8 countries, including the US and the UK, adopted an Open Data Charter which included an expectation that governments will publish data openly by default and that they will work to improve both the quality and quantity of data being released.

The UK’s Action Plan is one step towards increased aid transparency, but what is the US doing? In an article with DevEx this week, AidData Co-Executive Director Brad Parks evaluated how the US is measuring up in the transparency of its information on foreign aid. While US government agencies are already reporting some data in a uniform, timely fashion, they can, and should, do more.

“The US should set high expectations for the types of information that agencies are expected to make accessible, as they are unlikely to volunteer data beyond what they are required to provide,” Parks said. “For example, reporting the sub-national location of activities and specific purposes of funding make it possible to more effectively track the distribution and impact of assistance, but not all agencies currently provide this information.”

In particular, Parks believes the US needs to work to make data relevant, timely, and accessible, and they should do that by first setting higher standards for individual government agencies, and then reporting data in a standard, comparable format. With funding from USAID through the Higher Education Solutions Network, AidData is working to sub-nationally geocode 15 countries over the next five years in order to provide decision-makers and civil society organizations with the information they need to track the distribution and impact of US development finance. Steps like these create more available data necessary to improve aid transparency in US development aid flows.

This week's updates were written by Ellie Kaufman of AidData's William & Mary Office. Ellie is a Communications Consultant based with AidData for the summer.
Tags: open developmentThis Weekopen datatransparency