Press Release: Aid transparency campaigners welcome new ‘open-government’ initiative

The campaign group Publish What You Fund today welcomed the launch of a new initiative to encourage governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and strengthen governance.

The Open Government Partnership, which launches today in New York, is overseen by eight governments and nine civil society organizations. Forty-six governments have so far agreed to take part, with Canada being the latest signatory.  To become a member, participating countries must make an Open Government Declaration; deliver a country action plan; and report on progress.

Karin Christiansen, Director of Publish What You Fund said: “We warmly welcome this important initiative which encourages increased openness from governments.  Aid transparency should be a key commitment in donor-countries’ plans. Providing more and better information about the aid they give would demonstrate accountability to their citizens, as well providing a useful tool to improve governance in aid-dependent countries.”

At the launch event today the eight countries that form the steering committee will formally present their action plans, which were published online this morning. President Obama will also give a speech. The UK and the US plans include specific commitments on aid transparency, including publishing information in line with a common standard. Norway, the only other donor country on the steering committee, does not include aid in its plan.

Christiansen: “We’re particularly pleased to see aid transparency in the US and UK plans. It is crucial that these major global donors lead by example ahead of the High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness at the end of the year. It’s disappointing that Norway has not included specific commitments on aid transparency, in spite of being a signatory to the International Aid Transparency Initiative. We’d like to see them add it in before the plan is finalized.”

Further points on country plans:

· We welcome the commitment from the UK to publish aid information from all government departments who spend overseas development assistance – not just the Department for International Development and encourage the government to publish further details within the year.

· We look forward to seeing a timeline for the US government-wide reporting requirements and hope the US will ensure compatibility of its data with International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) standards

· We welcome Canada’s joining the OGP and hope very much that they will include aid transparency in their plan and that this will pave the way to them joining IATI

Contact:

Catalina Reyes in the US on +1 202 701 9753 or Amy Barry in the UK +44 7980 664397

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