We are pleased to announce the final selection for the 2024 Aid Transparency Index. The Index assesses the transparency of the major international aid organisations. These include bilateral, multilateral and philanthropic organisations that provide both grants and development finance, and that intervene in humanitarian emergencies and fund development projects. This year, as in the 2022 Index, we will be assessing 50 aid and development organisations.
There are many more organisations which meet the selection criteria than we are able to assess, given our limited resources and the labour-intensive nature of the Index. As well as selecting those organisations that disburse the most aid or are the most influential, we also aim for a balanced set geographically, and by type of organisation.
The criteria for inclusion in the 2024 Index remain unchanged. To qualify for inclusion, organisations must fulfil a minimum of 3 out of 4 of the following:
- The organisation is in majority public ownership, with one or multiple governments as shareholders;
- Its primary purpose is providing aid and/or development finance across borders, or it is responsible for the oversight and administration of significant proportions of aid for development resources;
- Its budget for aid and/or development – or the resources that the organisation has at its disposal to spend upon aid and development – is at least US$1 billion per year;
- The organisation plays a leading role in setting aid and/or development policy in its home country, region or specialist sector.
In cases where an organisation does not pass the US$1 billion threshold but does meet the other criteria, at a minimum, it must have a budget to spend on aid and/or development of at least US$250 million per year. Publishing data in the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for inclusion in the Index.
Responding to the changing aid context
Private sector instruments continue to increase as a share of aid budgets. Mobilisation of private finance is seen as an essential way to generate the investment needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Reflecting this, the 2024 Index will continue to separately assess the private and public portfolios of multilateral DFIs.
International migration has led many bilateral donors to divert a share of their Official Development Assistance (ODA) budgets to in-donor country refugee costs. However, these funds are not spent internationally and their inclusion in ODA budgets is controversial. For this reason, any in-donor refugee costs have been removed from the statistics when considering the US$1 billion threshold for inclusion in the Index.
In addition, the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard, the data format which carries the most weight in the Index, is being used by an increasing number of organisations as standardisation of reporting is prioritised. Over 750 publishers have reported in the Standard in the last year. Given this, we are placing a greater emphasis on linking IATI data in the updated methodology of the 2024 Index.
This year we have reflected on new ways in which the Index can be improved and updated with a consultation on the methodology. On the 15th of June 2023 we shared the detailed outcomes of the methodology review with all respondents and these changes will be implemented in the 2024, and future Indexes. Our most recent blog provides an overview of these updates, and an updated version of the Aid Transparency Index Technical Paper contains the full methodology.
Three organisations were removed from the Index for the 2024 edition. These were the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA); the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Turkey, TIKA: whilst TIKA’s share of ODA spending has increased dramatically in the years since the Syrian refugee crisis, Turkey’s ODA has remained opaque and un-responsive to calls for better transparency. It is also unclear to what extent the majority of ODA reported by Turkey leaves the country. When it does, it often goes to support Syrian refugees near the Turkish border, questioning the extent to which Turkey’s ODA is a truly international aid programme.
UK, BEIS: BEIS was broken up into three new departments in 2023. These are the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT). Responsibility for national security and investment policy has gone to the Cabinet Office. These new departments continue the ODA spending previously under BEIS’s responsibility, however, none of them surpasses the US$1 billion threshold for inclusion in the Index.
US, PEPFAR: the US government has recently updated its approach to publishing IATI data. Previously a single US Government IATI publisher was used for several of its departments and initiatives, including PEPFAR. The US has now created individual IATI publishers for each ODA spending department or agency – a move that will make accessing and navigating US IATI data easier. Since the setup is now based around departments and agencies, a publisher has not been set up for PEPFAR, which is a cross-government funding initiative. Data about PEPFAR funded activities is now published by agencies managing the programmes rather than by PEPFAR itself. PEPFAR organisational information is published to IATI by the State Department, which houses the Office of the US Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC), the lead for PEPFAR implementation.
This new arrangement means it would be very difficult to assess the transparency of PEPFAR’s activities in the Aid Transparency Index. Doing so would involve piecing together PEPFAR activities from the various managing agencies, and using data from multiple publishers would make it very difficult to calculate things like publication frequency and time lag. For this reason we decided not to carry out a separate assessment of PEPFAR in the 2024 Index. We will, however, be assessing three of the main departments and agencies managing PEPFAR funds – USAID, US State Department and US Department of Health and Human Services. The decision not to include PEPFAR in the 2024 Index is not a reflection of the transparency of PEPFAR spending and the quality of transparency data published for PEPFAR projects will be reflected in the scores of those three departments.
Three new organisations were added to the 2024 Index; the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; the World Food Programme and the US Department of Health and Human Services.
UNHCR: disbursed US$4.9 billion in 2021 and plays a major role in refugee resettlement and support. It meets all four criteria for inclusion.
WFP: The WFP disbursed US$8.9 billion in 2021 and plays a major role globally in food stability. As of 2021, It supported over 128 million people across more than 120 countries and territories. In addition to emergency food relief, WFP offers technical and development assistance such as building capacity for emergency preparedness and response, managing supply chains and logistics, promoting social safety programs, and strengthening resilience against climate change.
US, Health and Human Services (HHS): US HHS disbursed over US$6.7 billion of ODA in 2021. US$4.6 billion of this was for in-country refugee costs. The other US$2.1 billion was spent on PEPFAR and global health programmes. The inclusion of HHS maintains the number of US publishers in the Index at four, reflecting the size and influence of US international aid spending.
Inclusion of aid contractors?
We considered many other organisations for the 2024 Index that we ultimately did not select. Among these were private aid contractors. Private and non-profit aid implementers channel significant volumes of aid, and several surpass our US$1 billion or US$250 million annual thresholds for inclusion in the Index. The top 10 USAID contractors, for example, were responsible for US$2.9 billion of USAID contracts in financial year 2021-22. The largest of these, Chemonics, accounted for US$1.5 billion. DAI Global and Abt Associates had contracts worth US$421 million and US$199 million respectively. In the UK, Adam Smith International was the highest paid consultancy firm, with FCDO contracts worth a total of £198 million (approximately US$250 million). Despite the large volumes of public money these organisations manage, transparency is lacking. While some do publish IATI data, it is often incomplete, particularly for US funded activities (the US does not require IATI publication from its implementers, while the UK does). Basic documents such as annual reports and accounts are not published on company websites or contain only partial information.
We thought hard about whether to include these agencies in the 2024 Index and carefully tested them against our criteria. While several do pass our annual aid expenditure thresholds and are administering public funds, it is not clear that they set or influence aid policies, a function that still lies principally with the funding agencies. They are also not publicly owned and lines of public accountability are not clear. For UK contractors, the FCDO does ask that aid is managed transparently. US funding does not currently confer such obligations on its contractors, however, and US government agencies assume much of the responsibility for transparency and accountability themselves.
Because of this we decided not to include aid contractors in the upcoming Index. We will, however, continue to monitor this area of aid transparency and plan to revisit the question of whether to include large implementing partners in subsequent editions. We are also continuing to track localisation of aid spending and are increasingly looking into networking of IATI data to trace delivery chains. Transparency of implementer spending is an important part of both these initiatives.
Following the announcement of the 2024 assessment list below, Publish What You Fund will open a technical consultation on the Index rule-set tests in September. The first data download for organisations assessed in the Index will be on 13th November 2023. We will send preliminary feedback on their data quality before a final data download on the 8th of April 2024. The final scores will be calculated and shared in May 2024, and we will launch the 2024 Aid Transparency Index in July.
Full list of organisations
- African Development Bank (AfDB) – Non-sovereign Portfolio
- African Development Bank (AfDB) – Sovereign Portfolio
- Asian Development Bank (AsDB) – Non-sovereign Portfolio
- Asian Development Bank (ASDB) – Sovereign Portfolio
- Australia, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
- Belgium, DG Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD)
- Canada, Global Affairs (GAC)
- China, Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM)
- Denmark, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) – Non-sovereign Portfolio
- European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) – Sovereign Portfolio
- European Commission, DG Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO)
- European Commission, DG International Partnerships (INTPA – formerly DEVCO)
- European Commission, DG Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (NEAR)
- European Investment Bank (EIB) – Non-sovereign Portfolio
- European Investment Bank (EIB) – Sovereign Portfolio
- Finland, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- France, French Development Agency (AFD)
- Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance
- Germany, Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development – GIZ
- Germany, Federal Foreign Office
- Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
- Ireland, Irish Aid
- Italy, Agency for Cooperation and Development (AICS)
- Japan, International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
- Korea, International Cooperation Agency (KOICA)
- Netherlands, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- New Zealand, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
- Norway, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Saudi Arabia, King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre
- Spain, Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID)
- Sweden, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)
- Switzerland, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
- United Arab Emirates, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- United Kingdom, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
- United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
- United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
- United States, Agency for International Development (USAID)
- United States, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- United States, Department of State
- United States, Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)
- World Bank, International Development Association (IDA)
- World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC)
- World Food Programme (WFP)
- World Health Organisation (WHO)