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 has been revised again ahead of the 2018 publication. The full process is outlined in the following blog posts.

The technical paper for the 2018 Aid Transparency Index outlines the updated methodology and the scoring criteria for each indicator. For those wishing for an overview of the changes made, please see the shorter guidelines document.

Donor Selection

The criteria for donor selection was updated for the 2018 Index – the full list of donors included is in the 2018 Technical Paper. To be included in the Index, donors must meet 3 out of 4 of the following:

  • The organisation is in majority public ownership, with one or multiple governments as shareholders;
  • Its primary purpose is providing aid and/or development finance across borders, or it is responsible for the oversight and administration of significant proportions of aid for development resources;
  • Its budget for aid and/or development – or the resources that organisation has at its disposal to spend upon aid and development – is at least US$1 billion per year ;
  • The organisation plays a leading role in setting aid and/or development policy in its home country, region or specialist sector.

At a minimum, all organisations included in the Index must have a budget to spend on aid and/or development of at least US$250 million per year. Publishing data in the IATI Standard is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for inclusion in the Index.

Indicators used and scoring approach

General scoring approach

The 2018 Index methodology uses 35 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 35 indicators are grouped into five weighted categories. Organisation planning and commitments to aid transparency account for 15% of the overall weight. Finance and budgets account for 25%. Project attributes, Joining-up development data and Performance are equally split and each account for 20% of the overall weight.

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.


Andy Lulham

Andy Lulham

Aid Information Advisor

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