2013 ATI: More Is Not Enough When It Comes to Aid Info

Oct 24, 2013

This post was written by the staff of Publish What You Fund. 

Information about aid spending is steadily becoming more available, but it also needs to become more useful, concludes a report released today by Publish What You Fund.

The results show there is a leading group of organizations that publish large amounts of useful information on their current aid activities. For the first time, a U.S. agency — the Millennium Challenge Corporation — ranks top, scoring 89%, more than double the average score.

The Aid Transparency Index (ATI) report is the industry standard for assessing foreign assistance transparency among the world’s major donors. Overall, the quality of the data published by the six U.S. agencies ranked in the report varies significantly – both in terms of the coverage of each agency’s spending as well as the detail of the information presented.

2013ATI

George Ingram, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute, said:

“MCC is to be congratulated for coming first in the overall ranking, and also for leading the American pack. USAID and the Treasury Department have shown significant improvements since 2012, but the Department of State, Department of Defense and PEPFAR clearly have a lot of catching up to do.”

Although the world’s largest and most influential providers of aid reaffirmed their commitment to transparency this year — at the G8 and as part of the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals framework — more than a third of the organisations ranked still score less than 20%.

This includes large donors, such as France and Japan, which have committed to implement the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), the only internationally agreed standard for publishing aid data that seeks to make it easier to access, use and understand.

David Hall-Matthews, Director of Publish What You Fund, said:

“Open data and transparency are becoming fashionable watch words, but we’re checking if donors are really delivering, looking beyond high-level commitments and long-held reputations. The ATI ranking shows that no matter how many international promises are made, no matter how many speeches there are around openness, a startling amount of organisations are still not delivering on their aid transparency goals. We will continue to encourage organisations to release more data — but more is not enough. We also want to make sure that the information is useful.”

For the first time, it not only assesses what information is published, but also the usefulness of that information. For example, a donor that publishes budgets in PDFs is more transparent than one that does not publish them at all — but that information is of limited usefulness, because a PDF is hard to access, analyse and reuse.

Several international organisations, including the African Development Bank, Canada, the European Commission, GAVI, UNDP, UNICEF and the U.S. Treasury have made big improvements this year, by publishing more information in accessible and comparable formats.

China comes last, making it the least transparent of the 67 organisations that were assessed in 2013.

To see all the findings of the 2013 ATI, please visit: http://ati.publishwhatyoufund.org

For more information, contact Nicole Valentinuzzi at (202) 834 – 7055 or nicole.valentinuzzi@publishwhatyoufund.org.

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