Dear Secretary of State,

Congratulations on your appointment to this important role. We are looking forward to working with you to make aid and development spending more transparent and ultimately more effective.

I am pleased to be able to tell you that DFID is a global leader on transparency. Our latest Aid Transparency Index shows DFID at fourth place overall, with 88.3 out of a possible 100 percentage points.

Going back further, your department helped set up the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) in 2008 and was the first organisation worldwide to publish data in the IATI standard in 2011. Since then, DFID has provided vital support to the initiative, including chairing its Technical Advisory Group.

Support from DFID has also been critical to improving transparency in organisations like the European Commission, the Global Fund and hundreds of NGOs worldwide.

There is one area of concern, however, and that is the transparency of aid delivered through other government departments. The cross-government aid strategy from November 2015 commits them to achieving a ‘good’ or ‘very good’ score in the Aid Transparency Index by 2020. We share the view of the International Development Committee that is not good enough. If small NGOs in Ethiopia can publish what they fund, why not the Foreign Office or the Ministry of Defence?

We would therefore urge you to:

  • Keep improving the quality, detail and timeliness of DFID’s own data, and use it yourself
  • Help other government departments raise their transparency to DFID levels by 2017, not 2020
  • Stand up for transparency at the High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation in Nairobi in November. This meeting should commit all actors to publish more and better data on aid and development, using the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standard, and do everything they can to promote and use the data for decision-making, accountability and learning

I would welcome the opportunity to meet to discuss this agenda and what we can do to help.

Yours sincerely,

Rupert Simons