Aid transparency in 2015: The clock is ticking

It’s six months since we launched the 2014 Aid Transparency Index. We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of donors that have been in touch to find out how they can improve the quality of the information they publish (and of course move a few notches up  the ranking in doing so!).  As you can imagine, this means that as soon as one year’s Index is out of the door, we quickly turn our minds to the one that lies ahead.

But 2015 is no ordinary year. For those of us working on development issues, this is a year of reckoning with much to look forward to. With big decisions coming up on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and Financing for Development, we will be watching closely to see how progress on the Millennium Development Goals is measured, how lessons learnt are carried over and what is done to ensure a fully transparent and accountable development framework for the future.

Of course, for open data and aid transparency enthusiasts, the BIG moment comes towards end of the year, as December 2015 is the deadline for donors to implement the IATI Standard.

This is why we have decided to release the next Aid Transparency Index in early 2016.

This will allow us to complete a final stock take of progress made by donors and to separate those that have walked the talk on aid transparency from those who have failed to meet their international commitments. With over nine months to go before the deadline, we sure hope that the latter will be a small minority of donors – but we’ll have to wait and see.

Does that mean we’re letting donors off the hook for now? I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise that the answer is “No, certainly not!” We will continue to monitor progress with implementing aid transparency and will undertake a mid-term review to assess where some of the major donors are with meeting the 2015 deadline. The review will include:

Separately, we will also carry out a progress review of U.S. agencies including USAID, the Departments of Defense, State, and Treasury, the MCC and PEPFAR.

As part of this review, we’ll collect data using the Index methodology. However, there will be no ranking produced. The aim of the review is to:

  • Enable donor organisations to check if they are on or off track with meeting the December 2015 deadline and identify issues that need addressing for accelerating progress.
  • Facilitate peer learning.
  • Raise awareness of transparency and open data standards in this critical year for development. We want to ensure that all development finance is transparent, building on existing open data standards like IATI.

Our monitoring efforts will complement our Road to 2015 campaign and will guide our advocacy and engagement during the year.

Details of the mid-term progress review, including donor selection, timeline and process are outlined in an FAQs document. If you’d like to know more then get in touch: tracker@publishwhatyoufund.org

We hope that donors will continue to monitor their own progress and make continual improvements in the run up to December, using readily available tools such as our Aid Transparency Tracker and the IATI Dashboard.  We’re also collecting case studies on best practices, stories of success and lessons learnt in improving publication or promoting use.

We want the next Aid Transparency Index to tell a positive story about how development actors pushed through all barriers to deliver on their transparency commitments and made open data the default for development. Yes, that’s ambitious, but there are still nine whole months to make that vision a reality. We’ve seen before that change is possible within a short period of time when the political will exists.

There is a lot to play for in 2015. The clock is ticking and we’ll be watching.

Shreya Basu

Shreya is a Research & Monitoring Manager at Publish What You Fund. You can reach her at shreya.basu@publishwhatyoufund.org.
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