AID TRANSPARENCY ANALYSIS
The UK is the seventh largest DAC donor, spending over USD 10bn in 2012. The 2014 ATI assesses the transparency of three UK government departments: the Department for International Development (DFID), which is responsible for nearly 90% of the UK’s ODA; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO); and the Ministry of Defence (MOD). As an EU Member State, the UK is part of the EU’s collective commitment to both the EU Transparency Guarantee and the Busan common standard, of which IATI is a core component. In 2013, along with other G8 members (now G7), the UK reaffirmed its commitment to implement the common standard (including IATI) by 2015.
In January 2011, DFID was the first donor organisation to begin publishing to the IATI Standard. It also hosted the IATI Secretariat until September 2013. That same year, the UK launched a pilot to improve the traceability of funding through the delivery chain from source to outcome using its Development Tracker portal. The portal integrates IATI data from UK government departments, CSOs that receive funding from DFID and a sample of private sector contractors.
Nine government departments and agencies are now publishing directly to the IATI Registry: the CDC Group (the UK’s DFI), the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), DFID, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Department of Health, FCO, the Medical Research Council, the Home Office and the Welsh Assembly Government. CDC, DECC, DFID and the FCO have all published implementation schedules, although they vary in their levels of ambition.
All UK government departments produced open data strategies in June 2012, to accompany a Cabinet Office white paper on open data. The Cabinet Office is responsible for government-wide transparency and open data. The Cabinet Office and DFID also convene an ‘IATI Practitioners Group’ for Departments to share best practice and have committed to advise other government departments that have not published an IATI implementation schedule yet as part of their work to encourage other government departments to publish to IATI.
The UK is a founder member of the Open Government Partnership and is in the process of implementing its second National Action Plan for 2013–2015, which was published in October 2013, and developed in partnership with civil society organisations. The UK has also endorsed the Open Aid Partnership.
As in 2013, the 2014 results show the three UK departments at very different stages of transparency. DFID ranks second and remains a leader in aid transparency and in its overall approach to open data for development. The FCO is ranked 35th and is in the fair category. It has made the political and technical commitment to greater aid transparency, but is still in the process of implementing fundamental changes to its publishing approach meaning that progress since 2013 has been limited. MOD, ranked 60th and in the very poor category, remains unresponsive to calls for greater aid transparency.
- As the department responsible for promoting the release of government data, the Cabinet Office should keep working with aid-spending departments to develop individual timelines and commitments to greater transparency, including publication to IATI.
- The UK should actively use its IATI data in its programming and coordination processes and promote the access and use of this information by others.
- It should update its OGP National Action Plan to include more ambitious commitments on aid transparency.
- All implementing partners of UK aid, including private contractors, should be required to publish to IATI by 2015.