The UK was an early supporter of aid transparency and instrumental in setting up the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). In 2011, the UK committed to make its development aid finances and project information open and accessible to all by December 2015. This commitment was made as part of the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.
The Department for International Development (DFID) was the first organisation to start publishing to the IATI Standard in 2011 and has consistently scored highly in the Aid Transparency Index. Disappointingly, other UK agencies do not have the same levels of transparency and this is limiting the overall transparency standards of the UK.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is responsible for developing and executing the UK’s foreign policy. It also administers cross-departmental funds, including the Prosperity Fund and the Conflict, Stabilisation and Security Fund. The FCO was last included in the 2014 Aid Transparency Index, where it was ranked ‘poor’.
Alongside Busan, the UK has a number of national commitments to aid transparency. These are:
- 2015 UK aid strategy
In November 2015, the UK government announced a new aid strategy, stating that all government departments must rank in the top two categories (‘good’ or ‘very good’) of the Aid Transparency Index by 2020. At the same time, the strategy announced a greater fragmentation in aid spending across departments, and major changes to government grants for NGOs.
- 2015 International Open Data Charter
The UK has endorsed the Open Data Charter. It has been developed and endorsed by governments, multilateral organisations, civil society and the private sector.
- 2013 Open Government Partnership
In 2013, the UK published its second National Action Plan for the period 2013 -2015. The plan reinforced the government’s commitment to transparency and open government. It ensures that the public has the opportunity to hold the government to account.
- 2013 G7 Commitment
Through the Lough Erne Communique, G7 member states committed to an Open Data Charter, which includes making government data open by default. They also recognised the importance of open aid data for accountability and renewed the commitment made in 2011 to implement the Busan Common Standard on Aid Transparency.
- 2012 Aid Transparency Challenge
This DFID commitment requires all organisations that it works through to adhere to IATI reporting standards. DFID also pledged to understand what barriers and obstacles existed that prevented organisations from publishing and help to overcome them.
- 2011 EU Transparency Guarantee
In November 2011, the European Union’s (EU) Foreign Affairs Council adopted a common position for Busan, incorporating an EU Transparency Guarantee. EU Institutions and member states agreed to publicly disclose all aid information in a common, standard format so that it can be accessed, shared and published.
- 2010 UK Aid Transparency Guarantee
The Government introduced a new Aid Transparency Guarantee in 2010, which commits them to making aid fully transparenct to citizens in both the UK and recipient countries.
Our key aid transparency asks to the UK are:
- To ensure that its aid is transparent, regardless of department. Our asks are supported by the International Development Committee of the House of Commons, which called on the government to make aid transparent across departments within two years, not five years as proposed in the aid strategy.
Department for International Development (DFID)
DFID is the main bilateral aid agency in the UK. It has been a leader in transparency and this is reflected in a sustained good performance in the Aid Transparency Index. DFID was instrumental in developing the IATI standard and publishes detailed data on its activities on the DevTracker.
In 2016, DFID recommitted to transparency across the supply chain in its bi- and multilateral development reviews, which were welcomed by Publish What You Fund. We now call on DFID to:
- Improve the quality and breadth of its IATI data, particularly at the activity-level, paying specific attention to related-documents and results data.
- Work with other UK government aid-spending departments to help them publish to IATI or improve their existing publication.
- Realise the benefits of its transparency efforts and develop a strategy for others, including external partners and stakeholders, to use the data in particular at country level.