A first look at common standard implementation schedules

Thirty-five donor organisations and governments have so far released implementation schedules for the common standard on aid information, with at least five more plans likely to be published in the coming weeks. It is encouraging that donors representing the lion’s share of global aid flows have delivered on their Busan commitment of outlining their plans for aid transparency by the end of 2012.

Donors fall broadly into four categories (see below for more details):

  1. Those who have already started publishing to IATI and are planning improvements to their data and/or systems.
  2. Donors planning to publish for the first time to IATI
  3. Plans that are incomplete or unclear with regards to IATI
  4. Donors who have rejected meaningful implementation of IATI

I’m happy to say that the last group is small and minor in terms of global aid flows – accounting for around 1% of official development finance. However, it is disappointing to see such experienced donors such as Austria, Finland and Portugal refusing to embrace the movement towards publication of current comparable information. Austria in particular has rejected the clear demand from partner countries and civil society for the provision of current information on its aid activities.

The good news is that 11 donors – including the U.S., Germany and two regional development banks – will begin publishing information to the IATI standard in 2013. They will be joined by Belgium in 2014 and three newer EU donors (Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia) by 2015.

The quality of IATI data is, of course, as important as global coverage. Many of IATI’s early implementers are now planning ambitious improvements to their data. Some, such as the European Commission’s DEVCO, are moving towards a much more useful level of detail to identify specific geocoded projects. Sweden, the UK and others are exploring how to publish conditions and results information in the IATI format, and how to map their information onto recipient budget classifications. Bilateral donors, led by Sweden, Australia and the UK, are rolling out their IATI publication to agencies and ministries beyond the principal aid agency.

It is worth taking a step back for a moment to put this work in context. IATI is often described as a journey, starting from evaluation of existing disclosure policies, to making the political commitment to improve transparency, to incremental (or sometimes big bang) implementation. Some governments and international organisations embraced the opportunities and challenges early and began implementing immediately – the UK and the World Bank are notable for pioneering the standard.

Others have been more cautious about political commitments but have now produced ambitious and exciting plans for implementing IATI. Canada is particularly noteworthy. Having signed IATI at Busan, CIDA has invested considerable resources and effort into rigorous implementation, with a first publication within a year. CIDA’s implementation schedule lays out clear plans for implementing almost all elements of the standard by 2015, demonstrating serious commitment to aid transparency and – vitally – an accessible and honest plan for stakeholders to engage with and hold CIDA to account.

Publish What You Fund is carrying out detailed comparative analysis of the implementation schedules, to highlight trends and provide feedback to donors on discrepancies in interpretation and approaches. But what is clear is that commitment to aid transparency is turning into action.

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Improving on existing IATI publication

  • Asian Development Bank
  • Australia – extending IATI publication to other government agencies by April 2013.
  • Canada – detailed plans to implement almost all fields by 2015.
  • European Commission (EuropeAid)
  • Hewlett Foundation
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • Sweden – extension of IATI publication to all agencies that spend ODA in 2013. Also forthcoming is IATI information on results and conditions.
  • UK DFID – piloting added value elements of IATI, including geocoding & unique identifiers (traceability).
  • UNDP
  • UNOPS

First-time publishers in IATI format

  • African Development Bank – June 2013
  • Belgium – June 2014
  • Czech Republic – 2015
  • Denmark – Jan 2013
  • Germany – Q1 2013
  • Inter-American Development Bank – Mar 2013
  • Luxembourg – 2013
  • New Zealand – 2013
  • Norway –2013
  • Poland – 2015
  • Slovak Republic – 2015
  • Switzerland – Oct 2013
  • UNFPA –June 2013
  • UNICEF – April 2013
  • U.S. –Jan 2013

Plans unclear/incomplete

  • Italy
  • Japan – while it is considering some improvements (e.g. activity status and implementing organisations), the schedule does not state whether it will provide any data in the IATI format (i.e. current and comparable). The implementation schedule may be revised.
  • Korea – only incomplete plan from Ex-Im Bank

Will not improve data or will not implement IATI format

  • Austria – no improvements scheduled to their data by 2015.
  • Finland – currently publishing in IATI format but only annually, converted from CRS. No commitment specified to publishing on a quarterly basis (as required by IATI standard).
  • Greece – will not publish to IATI by 2015.
  • Portugal – will not publish to IATI by 2015.
  • Slovenia – no plans for IATI.

Plans still in the pipeline

  • France
  • GAVI
  • Ireland
  • Korea? (No plan has been released by KOICA or EDCF)
  • World Bank
  • Other UN agencies (e.g. ILO & OCHA)
  • Other EU institutions (e.g. DG-Enlargement)
  • Other ministries of bilateral (e.g. UK’s Foreign Office)

Andrew Clarke

Andrew is the Advocacy Manager at Publish What You Fund. You can reach him at andrew.clarke@publishwhatyoufund.org.
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