The aim of the Aid Transparency Index is to push donors to publish their aid and development information in an open data format. As the global aid landscape changes and donors make progress towards this goal, the methodology has been revised and developed to remain relevant. The Aid Transparency Index methodology was revised for the 2013 Index and is being revised again ahead of the 2017 publication.

The 2013 – 2016 Index methodology is outlined below, and will be updated when the 2017 methodology is finalised.

Donor Selection

Organisations have been selected using three criteria:

  • They are a large donor Official Development Assistance (ODA) spend is more than USD 1bn);
  • They have a significant role and influence as the country’s major aid agency and engagement with the Busan agenda;
  • They are an institution to which government or organisation-wide transparency commitments apply, for example members of the G7 or all U.S. agencies.

Organisations need to meet a minimum of two of these criteria to be included in the Aid Transparency Index. There are some donors that are spending more than USD 1bn in ODA that have not been included, for example India, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, even though others spending lower volumes of ODA have been retained. This is because the latter are covered by government or organisation-wide transparency commitments (e.g. U.S. government-wide commitment to aid transparency). Although we would like to include more donor organisations in the Index, this is not possible currently due to resource constraints.

Indicators used and scoring approach

General scoring approach

The Index uses 39 indicators to monitor aid transparency. The indicators have been selected using the information types agreed in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard. The indicators represent the most commonly available information items where commitments to disclosure already exist. In addition, organisations’ overall commitment to aid transparency is measured by the existence of Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation or disclosure policies, plans for IATI publication and the organisation’s efforts to promote access, use and re-use of its information.

Groups and sub-groups

The 39 indicators are grouped into weighted categories that measure commitment to aid transparency and those that measure publication of aid information at both organisation and activity level. Within the publication category, the organisation-level indicators account for 25% of the overall weight, while the activity-level indicators account for 65%. The two publication groups are further divided in subgroups, based largely upon the subgroups used in the Busan Common Standard implementation schedules template. The subgroups are equally weighted, as are the indicators within each sub-group.


A graduated scoring methodology is used for some of the publication indicators. For 22 indicators, the scoring takes into account the format that the data is provided in, depending on the accessibility and comparability of the information and how consistently it is published. For example, information published in PDFs scores lower than information published in machine-readable formats. Information published to the IATI Standard, the most comparable format, can score up to 100 for each indicator, depending on the coverage of information and frequency of publication.

Data collection process

Most information is gathered from what is published online by each organisation – either on their website, on the IATI Registry or on national data platforms such as the U.S. Foreign Assistance Dashboard. Two indicators use secondary data sources, to assess the quality of Freedom of Information legislation and donor’s implementation schedules.

If the organisation is not an IATI publisher then all the information is collected via the manual survey. For organisations that are publishing to the IATI Registry, data collection follows a two-step process:

  • First, their data is run through the data quality tool of the Aid Transparency Tracker, which is designed to run automated checks and tests on each organisation’s data, providing both a comparative view across organisations and granular details on each organisation’s data. These tests are aggregated to produce scores for indicators to which they are relevant.
  • Next, for those indicators for which information is not published to the IATI Registry or does not pass the necessary tests, the data is collected via the manual survey.

All organisations are provided with an opportunity to review the assessments and provide us with any feedback for consideration. Surveys are also independently reviewed.


Elise Dufief

Elise Dufief

Research & Monitoring Manager

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Nicholas Dorward

Nicholas Dorward

Research Assistant

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Andy Lulham

Andy Lulham

Aid Information Advisor

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