New stewards for aid transparency

Responsibility for running the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) recently changed to a new secretariat, after four years of DFID hosting. The department will be a hard act to follow as the UK Government has been a global leader on aid transparency, both in terms of releasing its own information but also its generous financial and administrative support for IATI during its early years.

But fear not! The consortium – UNDP (leading), UNOPS, Sweden, Ghana and DI – that now makes up the Secretariat has a great track record in implementing and advising IATI.

I’m particularly pleased that Development Initiatives (DI) will continue to lead on technical work (having been contracted by DFID since IATI’s early days), supporting organisations to implement IATI and leading on the development of the Standard. DI have built up invaluable knowledge about the challenges and opportunities associated with IATI, and have a lot of experience of engagement with a wide range of development actors.

As funders and aid delivery organisations, UNDP, UNOPS and Sweden have all shown real ambition in publishing information that goes well beyond traditional reporting, including project documentation, geo-coding and results data.

And Ghana has been a stalwart member of the IATI partner country caucus, working with its peers to ensure that the standard meets their needs. They will continue to liaise with governments on using the data at country level.

Data is now flooding into IATI, with 180 publishers on the Registry, including information from most of the world’s major donors. More will be coming, with the recent G8  and French commitments to implement IATI as part of the Busan common standard by 2015. The Secretariat also has clear plans for working with the OECD towards greater coherence on the complementary components of the common standard.

It’s actually a pretty good time for a handover as IATI is itself moving into a new phase: a focus on data quality. Some of the data now available on the IATI Registry is pretty exciting. And some of it needs considerable work, representing a first step towards transparency.

The Secretariat does not call the shots – that is the role of the multi-stakeholder membership as a whole – but they provide the management, advice and support that an international standard requires to serve the needs of its community and develop the standard, reacting to technological change and changing demand.

It is up to the IATI community to support the Secretariat. That means financial contributions, as well as important advocacy and communications work. So, if you haven’t done so already, please get your membership dues sorted. Considering the potential that IATI has to underpin better planning and execution in development, it’s remarkable value for money.

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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