In this short update Elma Jenkins of the Aid Transparency Index team explains how and why we’re undertaking a review of the Aid Transparency Index method and how you can get involved.
What do a Swedish electoral observation mission in Colombia, a European Commission funded extractive industry transparency project in Trinidad & Tobago and a USAID electronic payment growth project in the Philippines have in common? These are all current projects published in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard to improve access to information on how much aid is being spent where and by whom. Thanks to advocacy work by the Publish What You Fund team and others, we now have much more detail about how aid money from these, and other organisations, is being spent.
In the 2020 Aid Transparency Index we found some positive developments towards more and better aid data publication overall as well as some continuing poor transparency practices. Eleven donors moved into the ‘very good’ category, an increase of four from 2018. The number in ‘good’ increased by two, to 15. This means that over half of the 47 donors that we assessed are now in the ‘good’ or ‘very good’ categories.
However, the 2020 Index findings also highlighted persistent data gaps, particularly in performance and results data, and the need for further improvements in data quality and comprehensiveness along with emerging themes of data engagement, building trust and inclusive development. Since its first iteration in 2011 the Index has developed and evolved to adapt to the changing environment within which it is nested.
Over the coming months the team at Publish What You Fund will be conducting a thorough review of the Index assessment and scoring approach. Our aim is to update the research process to adapt to new developments and ensure the Index continues to reflect the areas of aid transparency that are most important for those using the data, particularly stakeholders in the global south. The task is a big one and we recognise the need to balance any changes with consistency across iterations of the Index so comparisons can be made.
We will look at how we assess donors’ transparency and the scoring approach, including a review of the current Index indicators, scoping out the possibility for new indicators and the weightings we assign to different components of aid transparency.
The process will be open and collaborative and we will be consulting widely with civil society, governments, open data and transparency experts and the donors themselves to seek inputs and views.
The review is already underway and will run to spring 2021, giving donors enough time to realign their publishing practices before the data collection begins for the 2022 Index. We are currently carrying out an initial review process internally to audit the existing approach and develop proposals for changes and new approaches.
Next, throughout November and December, we will seek input from external experts in the areas of aid transparency and indexing. This will include:
- A survey of data users – gathering information about stakeholders needs and priorities.
- Consultations on ideas and outstanding issues with focus groups including publishers, CSOs and partner governments.
Following these inputs, in early 2021, we will develop a draft proposal. Before we implement any changes however, we will put out the draft to a wider written consultation, as an opportunity for additional feedback. A revised Index Technical Paper will be issued in the second quarter of 2021.
What to expect
In the coming weeks we will be contacting individuals and groups for specific input, so please watch your inbox! This will include one to one consultation, but also invitations for when we convene groups for discussion. If you would like to provide input please send us an email – you can reach us on firstname.lastname@example.org. We are particularly keen to hear from global south networks and groups.