On 24 October, 2013 Publish What You Fund, the global campaign for aid transparency, advocating for a significant increase in the availability and accessibility of comprehensive, timely, and comparable aid information, published the 2013 edition of their Aid Transparency Index (ATI). The ATI is the industry standard for assessing foreign assistance transparency among the world’s major donors and in 2013 included 67 donor organizations in its assessment. A large amount of these (33) are signatories to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), accounting for more than 85% of Official Development Finance (ODF).
Although a change in methodology this year makes it impossible to directly compare donor performance to previous years, it is clear that one of the biggest improvers in this year’s report is the European Commission’s Director General for Enlargement (DG Enlargement). While the DG Enlargement was ranked as the lowest of the four EC departments (ECHO, DG DEVCO, FPI) which were assessed, it was one of the biggest improvers in 2013 and outranked many big bilateral donors. It performed best with regards to its organizational planning and received an overall score of 48.1%, which is commendable compared to the global average of 32.63%. Over two thirds of DG Enlargement’s data were also published in machine readable formats. While scoring relatively high in the Index there remains considerable room for improvement. DG Enlargement did not score on 13 of the 39 indicators, which included some important ones such as activity overall cost, performance results and conditions, and actual dates related to activities. DG Enlargement has been placed together with the other EC departments in the ‘Fair’ performance category.
Some recommendations from the ATI report include that DG Enlargement should improve its publication to IATI with more comprehensive data covering all areas as well as playing an active role in supporting the publication of data by other EC departments included in the management of IPA funds. DG Enlargement should follow these recommendations in order to fulfill their goal of publishing to 72% of IATI fields by 2015 so as to set a significant transparency benchmark for accession country institutions which are the benefactors of Enlargement aid.
This year’s ATI saw slight changes in its methodology from previous years. In addition to checking what current information is available, it also looked at the format in which it is published. This had a major effect on donors who publish their data in less accessible formats such as PDFs or websites as opposed to formats that are easier to access, analyze, and reuse such as XML and CSV which are machine readable. The 2013 ATI also reduced its indicators from 43 to 39. As part of this monitoring, Publish What You Fund collaborates with relevant CSOs and networks as independent reviewers. BCSDN has for the 2nd year in a row taken on the task of assessing DG Enlargement.
DG Enlargement started publishing its data from July, 2013 although it was only linked with the IATI Registry in September, 2013.
*Publish What You Fund has prepared a brief on EU aid transparency which can be accessed here.